Nov 18, 2013, 5:01 PM EDT
Carlos Munoz (pictured) and Mike Conway are as much a contrast behind the wheel of an IndyCar as you could imagine – the former is unpredictable dynamite, while the latter is smooth and controlled.
But both the Colombian and the Englishman have one thing in common: They can make open-wheel followers lose their breath. And chances are, they’ll being doing that a lot in 2014.
After finishing runner-up in this year’s Indianapolis 500 (and gaining more IndyCar experience in fill-in gigs at Toronto and Fontana), Munoz has officially ascended from Indy Lights to the big leagues by joining the IndyCar program at Andretti Autosport, where he’ll drive a fourth Honda next season.
Like a punk rocker grinding out loud notes on his or her guitar, Munoz drove with a bold brashness in many instances across his three IndyCar appearances in 2013. His work draws comparisons to Tomas Scheckter, the two-time IndyCar race winner that competed in the series from 2002 to 2011 and stood out for his aggressiveness.
While the results weren’t always there for T-Scheck, he was often a blast to watch. And it looks like Munoz will have that same trait.
Then there’s Conway, who can provide just as many thrills on the road and street circuits. This past June, he proved just how talented he is on the twisty tracks with a runaway victory in Race 1 of the Detroit Belle Isle doubleheader.
Now, Ed Carpenter’s making room for him at his single-car squad for next year – Conway will strap into the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet on the road and street courses, while oval master Carpenter is taking care of the speedways.
This pairing looks on paper to be a tremendous one. Conway and Carpenter are as good as anyone in the IndyCar paddock in their respective disciplines. Furthermore, it would appear to elevate Ed Carpenter Racing to the status of “contender” at every stop on the calendar.
The USAC product was working diligently to improve his road/street work but should be commended for his “team-first” decision. It’s a sign of his determination to make ECR into a force to be reckoned with, and it’s a sign that he’s got a really smart head on his shoulders.
Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing how Munoz and the Conway/Carpenter combo will fare.
If Munoz can harness his pedal-to-the-metal approach without losing it completely, he’ll become one of those drivers that makes you fork over the price of admission without a second thought.
As for the No. 20 camp, I think there’s a chance we’ll see ECR’s green, white and gold in Victory Lane multiple times in 2014, thanks to both drivers.
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