Healed from heart surgery, 4-time NHRA Pro Stock champ Greg Anderson back in the saddle this weekend in Houston

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The vacation of sorts is over for drivers in the Pro Stock class of the NHRA. Things are going to get a lot rougher from here on out.

The reason? Former Pro Stock world champ Greg Anderson will make his return from off-season surgery at this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston’s Royal Purple Raceway.

Anderson has missed the first seven races of the 2014 season after offseason surgery to repair a bicuspid aortic valve in his heart. He was cleared by a panel of doctors Monday and will resume racing on Friday.

“It was very difficult to sit out those first five races,” Anderson said in an NHRA media release. “We racers tend to think that everything in life is all about drag racing. Nothing is more important. We live it, breath it, eat it, sleep it. And sometimes we think we’re invincible – but I found out firsthand that we’re not.”

Along those same lines, Anderson has developed a new appreciation for not only his own health, but also in just how serious his condition and recovery wound up being.

“In the beginning, I thought the surgery and recovery would be a simple deal, a piece of cake, that I would bounce right back,” Anderson admitted. “Turns out it was a huge deal and a new chapter for me. They fixed me up, but there was still a challenge ahead and a lot of pain to go through.

“You realize you aren’t invincible when you go through something like that. You have to learn to be patient, take your time, go slow and follow the doctor’s orders, and that’s a whole new game for a guy like me.

“Somehow, I learned how to be patient, healed up in the proper amount of time, and now it’s time to go racing again. I couldn’t be more excited to get back behind the wheel of my Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro.”

Getting back to drag racing, particularly at Houston, could ultimately wind up being the best medicine for Anderson, who is a two-time winner at Royal Purple Raceway.

“To be honest with you, I can’t remember ever going to a race this happy, this positive and feeling this good,” Anderson said. “I guess it’s kind of a new lease on life for me; I rolled back my odometer, so to speak. Now it’s time to get back to racing. That’s what we love, that’s where we feel at home.”

Anderson has 74 national event wins and is a four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion. Teammate Jason Line is the defending PS champ in this weekend’s event, as well.

Anderson was replaced behind the wheel for the first seven races by European Pro Stock champ Jimmy Alund, who ultimately made his swan song appearance in Anderson’s car at the last race, winning the Pro Stock class at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, N.C.

“I’m excited to get back in the same car that Jimmy won with in Charlotte,” Anderson said. “The guys have done such a fantastic job with this car, and I don’t just mean Jason Line, Rob Downing and the entire crew that works on it.

“Jimmy has done a fantastic job of driving the car and also of helping the guys find a happy spot for that racecar to run in. My hat’s off to the entire team and Jimmy Alund. That car is working very, very nicely, and I found that out firsthand yesterday when we made a few test runs. It’s like it’s on autopilot. It’s smooth as glass.”

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Carlos Munoz back at Andretti Autosport for 2018 Indy 500

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After posting two runner-up finishes and three top-five results in four starts with Andretti Autosport at the Indianapolis 500, Colombian Carlos Munoz will come home to the team as its sixth driver in the 2018 race. He’ll instantly vault into win contention, given his pedigree at the Speedway and joining Andretti’s team that has won three of the last four ‘500s there.

Munoz raced full-time with Andretti Autosport from 2014 through 2016. While he scored his first career win at Detroit race one in 2015, and was series rookie of the year in 2014, it’s his runner-up results as a race rookie in 2013 and again in the 2016 race to teammate Alexander Rossi that loom largest.

Now, Munoz, who spent a single season at A.J. Foyt Enterprises before both he and Conor Daly were not retained for a second year, will join Andretti’s full-season quartet of Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Zach Veach along with previously announced fifth driver Stefan Wilson.

This will add another confirmed Honda entry to next year’s race. Honda has 12 full-season entries expected among Andretti’s four cars, then two apiece from the Ganassi, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Schmidt Peterson and Coyne teams.

That number grows with Andretti’s two extra cars, and the combination of the SPM/Michael Shank car for Jack Harvey to confirm at least 15 Hondas for the 2018 Indianapolis 500. Honda has traditionally capped its number of entries at 18 cars.

The full release is below.

A familiar face will make its way back to the Andretti Autosport stable for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race as Carlos Muñoz returns to the team, vying for his chance to kiss the bricks.

Muñoz made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut with Andretti Autosport at the 2013 Indianapolis 500, where he finished second, earning himself Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honors. The Colombian-native went on to compete full time with the team the following year. In 2016, Muñoz once again finished runner-up when his rookie teammate, Alexander Rossi, crossed the Yard of Bricks on a fuel-saving strategy to win the 100th Indy 500.

“I am very excited to be a part of Andretti Autosport again,” said Muñoz. “The team has been like family to me since day one, when I joined them five years ago to race Indy Lights. We have been so close to winning the Indy 500 – twice with the team – so I am especially excited to be back for that race and hopefully we will have a good result this year. I need to thank Michael [Andretti] and J-F [Thormann] for believing in me and wanting me to back in their car for the Indy 500. I am also excited to be back with my teammates, and I think we will continue to work really well together. We have six cars, so hopefully we will have a strong team working with the new [aero kit]. I am really looking forward to it – hopefully we can finally get that win we’ve been so close to.”

Muñoz will look to pick up where he left off with Andretti Autosport and add to the team’s historical success at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The team mirror’s Muñoz’s enthusiasm and is excited to have secured its complete lineup before the new year.

“We’re thrilled to have Carlos back in an Andretti car for the Indy 500,” said Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti. “There is no denying that Carlos has talent at [Indianapolis Motor Speedway], he’s finished runner-up twice and that has fueled his determination to get to victory lane. He has already built relationships with his teammates and many of those on our crew, so it should be a seamless process for our six cars when they head out for the first time together.”

The veteran driver has built a resume that consists of 70 Verizon IndyCar Series starts, one win (Detroit Race 1, 2015), one pole position (Texas, 2016) and seven podiums. Muñoz competed under the Andretti shield from 2013 to 2016 and finished 17th in the 2017 IndyCar season.

Andretti Autosport has collected five Indianapolis 500 victories (Wheldon/’05, Franchitti/’06, Hunter-Reay/’14, Rossi/’16, Sato/’17) and seeks to become only the second team to earn three consecutive Indy 500 wins. Muñoz will join teammates Rossi, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Zach Veach and Stefan Wilson on opening day in May for the team’s six-car effort.