Expect excitement with Munoz, Conway/Carpenter combo on 2014 IndyCar grid

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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.

Ricciardo: Red Bull has ‘decent chance’ of Abu Dhabi F1 victory

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Daniel Ricciardo believes Red Bull stands a “decent chance” of signing off from the 2017 Formula 1 season with a victory in next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After a slow start to the year, Red Bull made massive gains across the course of the season by developing its RB13 to end the season as front-runners, rivaling Mercedes and Ferrari for pace.

The Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi has a number of slow-speed sections that should suit the RB13 car, with Ricciardo optimistic about his chances of not only ending his podium drought at the track, but even winning the race.

“Yas Marina has actually been one of my favorite tracks over the years,” Ricciardo said in Red Bull’s pre-race preview.

“It’s been a bit like Suzuka for me though, a track that I’ve always enjoyed and gone well on but not quite reached the podium at. I broke that trend in Suzuka this year so hopefully I can do the same in Abu Dhabi.

“When you have so much time away from the car in the off season it helps to sign off with a strong result as it makes you feel like you really deserve a break.

“I think we should have a strong car in Abu Dhabi. I said I want another win before the season is out and I think we have a decent chance of achieving that.”

Red Bull has claimed three race wins through 2017, with Ricciardo’s victory in Azerbaijan being followed up by successes for teammate Max Verstappen in Malaysia and Mexico.