Andretti Autosport driver Carlos Munoz is looking to change the perceptions IndyCar fans have of him being at his best on ovals.
The Colombian made a major impression on his IndyCar debut, which was the 2013 Indy 500, by qualifying and finishing second in the legendary superspeedway race.
"It’s a bit weird that people see me as being really strong on ovals – speedways especially – because my background in racing is European, so I should be quick on road courses," Munoz told Motorsport.com.
“I think I showed before that I could be really fast on road and street courses – I won many races in Indy Lights,” he added, referring to his two seasons with Andretti Autosport in the junior leagues - when he scored three oval wins and three road/street course victories.
After graduating to IndyCar full-time in 2014 and scoring three podium finishes, Munoz would lead an Andretti 1-2 at Detroit in 2015 - taking a win against the run of play, helped by tactical masterstrokes from the pit wall.
However, it was his pace in the wet and lack of errors that enabled the team tactics to play out.
“It was good to have my first win, although it’s not the way I like to win," Munoz conceded. "But hopefully this year will be much better and I hope to be fighting for the win in each race – being up front, being competitive.”
Munoz said that Andretti Autosport’s struggles with the Honda aero kit were the limiting factor last season and he’s positive about the revised HPD effort.
“Last year I couldn’t show my full potential, especially in qualifying, because of the handicap we had with our aero kits. But I think apart from two races, I finished top 10 in all of them, even starting nearer the back.
“But the new aero kit I think really does suit me – the grip at the rear, in particular, I like a lot because I like to carry a lot of speed on corner entry. Last year’s kit was too sensitive. This year’s one allows a driver to be more consistent.”
Usual approach to Indy 500
Munoz, who followed up his P2 finish at Indy in 2013 with a P4 in 2014, said he plans to approach this year’s race, his fourth effort, in the same manner as before, despite it being the 100th edition.
“This year is the 100th running and it’s the one everyone wants to win – especially the teams, the sponsors. They put so much pressure on the teams to win this race.
“A lot of drivers will sit here and say they want to win the 100th 500. But I want to approach it like a 'normal' 500 , because if you think it’s the 100th, that just puts extra pressure on yourself and that’s not good.”
The 24-year-old added, however, that the Indy 500 is just one of many races he’s aiming to win in 2016.
“Of course I want to win the 500, and, yes, I want to win the 100th. But I want to be at the end of the year looking back at several wins."