While it was maybe the quietest top-10 of Carlos Munoz’ career, the Colombian driver was part of an Andretti Autosport trio within the first seven positions after Sunday’s 102nd Indianapolis 500.
After four consecutive starts of 11th or better between 2013 and 2016, Munoz has managed top-10 finishes each of the last two years despite starting 24th with A.J. Foyt Racing in 2017 and 21st this year in a reunion with Andretti Autosport.
Facing the challenging conditions on Sunday with a red-hot track temperature and not enough downforce to combat the heat, an exhausted Munoz was more than pleased to round up a 7th place finish.
“It’s another top 10 for my career, I think I only have one outside the top 10 because of a penalty,” Munoz stated. “I think what hurt me was the yellows towards the end. We had a really good strategy going on, same as (Graham) Rahal, and we were in a really good place.”
While the cautions did not fall in Munoz’ favor – Rahal stated Sunday that he felt the yellow flag periods were far too long, hampering their strategies – it were the restarts that would often catch Carlos out of place.
“I think I chickened out a little bit on the restarts because I wasn’t up to speed. That hurt me a little bit on the restarts,” Munoz said. “I was a little bit cautious, so some people overtook me but at the end of the day I think I gained back all the positions on track.
“It’s a top seven so… great!”
Now Munoz moves on from the month of May at Indianapolis and will begin to work towards any additional racing opportunities in 2018 as well as a potential full-time ride in 2019.
If teams are wise, they would be lining up to lock in the veteran driver that is still only 26 years old. Munoz has twice finished runner-up at the ‘500, is a race winner in IndyCar with his victory at Detroit in 2015 and placed 8th in the points standings as a rookie in 2014.
In his final year as a full-time driver with Andretti Autosport in 2016, Munoz picked up a pole at Texas to go with his 2nd place finish at the Indianapolis 500 and a podium result at Mid-Ohio.
For the 2017 season, Munoz struggled mightily as with A.J. Foyt Racing as the team underperformed with both the No. 4 and 14 cars. The disconnect eventually left both Munoz and Conor Daly without full-time jobs this season.
At the very least, Munoz is the strongest available Indy one-off ringer on the market with Helio Castroneves inked to return to Team Penske in 2019.
In each of Munoz’ six Indianapolis 500 starts, he has finished all 200 laps and this year was the highest-finishing Indy 500 one-off driver.
Expect to see this Colombian back in the field for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.