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IndyCar 2017 driver review: Carlos Munoz

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. After three full seasons in IndyCar and two preparation seasons in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport, Carlos Munoz endured a tough switch to A.J. Foyt Enterprises in 2017.

Carlos Munoz, No. 14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet

  • 2016: 10th Place, Best Finish 2nd, 1 Pole, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 50 Laps Led, 11.9 Avg. Start, 10.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 16th Place, Best Finish 7th, Best Start 8th, 0 Top-5, 6 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 17.2 Avg. Start, 13.8 Avg. Finish

Like teammate Conor Daly, Carlos Munoz entered into something of a no-win situation when joining A.J. Foyt Enterprises for 2017. Neither driver was hailed for their feedback with engineers and in Munoz’s case, he had a race engineer in Will Phillips whose most recent IndyCar experience was with the series itself – not either the Chevrolet or Honda aero kit. Plus, Munoz was going from a four-driver lineup at Andretti Autosport with decades of experience to a two-car lineup that had a combined four full-time seasons complete. Not an ideal scenario.

Munoz overachieved at times and banked a respectable haul of six top-10 finishes, with a best finish of seventh his second time out at Long Beach. He also dragged a car that really had no business ending in the top-10 to a 10th place at this year’s Indianapolis 500, which stood out as perhaps his most impressive drive of the year.

It was hard to quantify Munoz’s year as a proper success. Although he was generally faster than Daly and ended two spots higher in the points, Munoz fell back into his previous trap at Andretti Autosport of being one of the more anonymous drivers in the field. Daly, to his credit, had several moments where he clearly exceeded the machinery at his disposal to produce a “wow” race or two. Munoz rarely seemed to have the flair to produce an exciting moment. Considering this is the driver who established the “Munoz line” running below the white line in Indianapolis his rookie year of 2013, that was disheartening that he didn’t have that single, iconic take-note moment.

The quiet, likable and sporadically quick Colombian driver has been a part of the IndyCar fabric for four full-time seasons and part of a fifth. Yet at 25 years old, like fellow Foyt driver and Indy Lights graduate Jack Hawksworth a year ago, you wonder if Munoz’s career wheeling it regularly in IndyCar has already reached its zenith.

GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/