Credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Al Unser Jr. wins “Indy Legends” pro-am race during IMS vintage weekend


Two decades after winning his second Indianapolis 500, Al Unser Jr. was once again victorious today at the Brickyard.

“Little Al” and amateur partner Peter Klutt captured the Charity Indy Legends Pro-Am Race, which took place on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course and was the marquee event for the track’s inaugural Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational.

The 45-minute race had former Indy 500 drivers team up with amateurs to race vintage, 1963-1972 Chevrolet Camaros, Chevrolet Corvettes and Ford Mustangs.

Unser and Klutt drove the latter’s No. 42C 1969 Corvette (pictured above in IMS president J. Douglas Boles’ tweet) to the win ahead of former Indy Racing League mainstay Eliseo Salazar and Gary Moore in Moore’s No. 98B 1965 Mustang GT350.

Rounding out the Pro-Am podium was two-time Indy 500 starter Willy T. Ribbs and Ed Sevadjian in Sevadjian’s No. 5 1972 Corvette.

“It feels great,” Unser Jr. said in a release. “I just want to thank Tony Parella [Sportscar Vintage Racing Association President and CEO] for inviting us, and also Peter Klutt for a beautiful car. That Corvette was just gone and it handled super. It’s great to be back here at Indy.”

Said Klutt, who called the afternoon “a dream of a lifetime”: “I started the race and then the strategy was that when a yellow came out, I would come in and we’d do the change.

“It came out early and that was good; I had one of the best drivers in the world to bring her home.”

Other “500” starters that competed in today’s Pro-Am included: 1996 winner Buddy Lazier, Scott Goodyear, Dick Simon, Lyn St. James, Mark Dismore, Johnny Parsons Jr., Alex Lloyd, Pete Halsmer, Robby Unser, Rocky Moran, Jaques Lazier, Robby McGehee, Spike Gehlhausen, Billy Roe, Scott Harrington, Rick Treadway, Tom Bagley, Bob Lazier, P.J. Chesson and John Martin.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Carlos Munoz

Carlos Munoz
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver roster in this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series. Next up in 13th is Carlos Munoz, who fell back to earth a bit after winning Indianapolis 500, then series rookie-of-the-year honors in consecutive years.

Carlos Munoz, No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda

  • 2014: 8th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 3rd, 3 Podiums, 5 Top-5, 8 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 10.5 Avg. Start, 12.6 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 13th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 4th, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 25 Laps Led, 14.0 Avg. Start, 12.1 Avg. Finish

Munoz fell down to earth a little bit in his second full season in IndyCar, albeit not as badly as fellow 2014 rookie Jack Hawksworth, who’d switched teams and had a myriad of issues throughout the season. He won his first race in the rain at Detroit race one, which was well judged, but there were precious other highlights from the driver who has showcased “wow” potential in the past.

His qualifying fell off year-to-year and that was probably the single thing to pinpoint as to why the decline occurred, falling from eighth to 13th in points. What had been a 10.5 average in 2014 fell to 14th this year, and behind teammates Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Ovals seemed his strongest type of circuit this year on the whole. Like teammate Justin Wilson, he’d been in position to score what would have been his third straight Indianapolis 500 top-five finish if a late splash of fuel wasn’t needed. Sixth at Texas from fourth on the grid marked his best overall weekend of the year, and fifth at Iowa and Pocono were also fairly good results.

But whereas Munoz picked his spots well last year and delivered a handful of podiums, his Detroit win marked his only podium visit this year. He didn’t really make much of an impression and was more anonymous than not over the course of the year. His future with Andretti is uncertain for 2016.

Williams maximizes wet setup work despite limited running in Sochi

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With action pretty much limited in both practice sessions due to the diesel spillage in free practice one and rain in free practice two for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, teams could only do limited wet-weather runs.

Williams Martini Racing tried to make the best of the circumstances, as one of only five teams that completed laps in FP2 (McLaren, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Ferrari) with eight cars.

Felipe Massa led second practice but it was an essentially meaningless session.

“It was quite a stunted session today which stopped us from completing all of the work we wanted to,” said Rob Smedley, Williams’ head of vehicle performance. “We had planned to run in the wet but we had a strange situation this afternoon in that half of the circuit was much wetter than the other half which made most of the tests null and void.

“We have been working on the wet set-up of the car and so wanted to get out at the end of FP2 to see the progress we have made. In a similar vein to our low speed corner work in Singapore, we seem to be making progress. We got through all of the bits and pieces we wanted to get through in terms of control systems and power unit set-up, and we have to go into tomorrow with a good plan for FP3 to get the car set-up for qualifying and the race.”

Valtteri Bottas finished third in Sochi a year ago, while Massa seeks a rebound after a fuel flow issue in qualifying resigned him to a Q1 elimination and an 11th place finish.