Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport appears to be setting the bar early for the Firestone Indy Lights contingent.
The Colombian racer, who enters his second season in Lights and will also attempt to get a fifth Andretti Autosport machine into the Indianapolis 500, had a great two days of testing at Sebring International Raceway this week. On Thursday, he threw down the fastest lap of the day with a time of 56.1486 seconds, and on Friday, he topped the afternoon session with a lap of 55.821 seconds.
“I don’t see myself as the guy to beat at St. Pete or for the championship,” Munoz told IndyCar.com. “I just want to do my work as best as I can – my work with my engineer, my physical preparation and my mental preparation. If I do that well, the results will come.”
Munoz finished fifth in the Lights standings last season, with victories at Edmonton and in the season-finale at Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, Calif.).
The Lights paddock will now head to Barber Motorsports Park for one more test session on Monday before making final preparations for their March 23 season opener in the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. NBC Sports Network will broadcast the race on March 24 at 11 a.m. ET before the IZOD IndyCar Series hits the airwaves at Noon ET with live coverage of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.
“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”
Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.
The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.
Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.
Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.
Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.
Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.
Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”