Almost certain to lose his AJ Foyt Racing ride for 2018, Carlos Munoz says he won’t sign for one of IndyCar's potential new teams, instead hoping to combine an IMSA Prototype campaign with a strong Indy 500 ride.
Munoz, who raced for Andretti Autosport from 2013 through ’16, effectively swapped rides with Takuma Sato this past season, joining AJ Foyt Racing as it switched to Chevrolet engines and aerokits.
The late and rapid transition from Honda equipment, combined with restricted testing opportunities, resulted in a very difficult season for the team, Munoz and teammate Conor Daly finishing 16th and 18th respectively in the 2017 championship.
Munoz told Motorsport.com: “Larry told me that it is hard for us to go forward together. So… I think from that point it’s over.
“It’s sad after just one season. We were making progress, but if they have different plans I cannot change that. It’s disappointing but I think I did OK in a difficult situation.
“All I can do is wish them good luck. I thank AJ and Larry and the crews for their work last season and now I must move on.”
The Colombian, who won the wet Detroit race two years ago, finished six races in the Top 10 this season, and one of those was in the Indy 500, traditionally his strongest event.
In 2013, Munoz made his IndyCar Series debut at the Brickyard and qualified and finished runner-up. Three years later, he finished second again – first of those on the same pitstop strategy – and was thwarted only by the brave fuel gamble taken by the Andretti-Herta arm of the team on behalf of winner Alexander Rossi.
Now, just a year after ditching Sato and Jack Hawksworth, AJ and son Larry Foyt appear to have gone for another complete change in lineup. Former champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan was confirmed earlier this month in the #14 car for 2018, while Daly has admitted publicly that he too is out of a ride.
Munoz said: “I’m talking to IMSA teams, in particular looking for rides in Prototypes, and I also want to do the Indy 500 with a good car.
“I don’t want to be a vulture waiting for a full-time driver in IndyCar to get hurt. I need to keep moving, and try and get a strong ride in IMSA, which I think has a lot of potential.”
Asked if he would be interested in a ride with the teams expected to enter IndyCar on a full- or part-time basis in 2018 – namely, Harding Racing, Carlin, or Juncos Racing – Munoz admitted it held little interest for him.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I think that would not be as good for me as a strong IMSA drive. I don’t want to spend another season like this one, and anyway, I don’t have the money they would want in those teams.
“For me, I am aiming for a strong drive with a good team in IMSA and at the Indy 500, which I believe I can win in the right opportunity. Maybe I get a fulltime ride in 2019 in IndyCar, or I stay in IMSA. We will see.”