National Guard Panther Racing rookie driver keeps it clean in first non-oval IndyCar Series start
TORONTO, Canada - It was an impressive street course debut for IndyCar Series rookie Carlos Munoz, who drove from a last-place starting position to finish 17th in Panther Racing’s No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet Sunday in the Honda Indy Toronto.
Munoz made his debut today with the team as a replacement for Ryan Briscoe, who suffered a broken wrist in Saturday’s race and was not medically cleared to participate in today’s race.
He earned Rookie of the Year honors for his second-place finish in the 97th Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport, which was his only other career IndyCar Series start. The Firestone Indy Light championship leader’s only other experience in an IndyCar was a test day at Texas Motor Speedway.
Munoz started in the 24th position and executed the series’ first standing start well, moving past Ed Carpenter (who stalled) and nearly passed Mike Conway as cars funneled through the first turn. The team had made clear to Munoz to take it easy at the start of the event, but the Columbian’s lap times steadily improved as the race progressed, to the point where by the middle of the race he was contending with all the cars he was racing against.
The National Guard crew executed its two-stop strategy and Munoz reached ashigh as ninth place on the grid while other drivers were cycling through their pit stops.
Ryan Briscoe Medical Update: Briscoe flew to Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon and is scheduled to undergo surgery on his wrist on Monday afternoon. He attended the morning warm-up session to help Munoz get acclimated to the team and the track. His expected recovery time following surgery is 2-3 weeks.
Carlos Munoz, No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet: "It was a long race and a hard race for me. It was basically my first time in an IndyCar on a street course and I didn’t know what to expect to be in a race here with so many cars out there. We continued to drop lap times and I got more and more comfortable with each lap, and by the end we put together quite a good lap – which are all positive things. It’s good work from the National Guard crew and my goal was to finish, and I finished, and I’m very happy to have this opportunity today.”