Rookie Carlos Munoz: Indy’s biggest surprise to date this year

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A little more than one month ago, only the most ardent of IndyCar observers had heard of, or really paid attention to, Andretti Autosport Indianapolis 500 rookie Carlos Munoz.

Now, mere days before the 97th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Colombian is probably the month of May’s biggest surprise.

Munoz really came on towards the end of last Indy Lights season driving for Andretti, posting a pair of wins in Edmonton and Fontana. He’s a championship favorite this season, with wins already at Barber and Long Beach and searching for his third in a row Friday in the Firestone Freedom 100.

Oh, and he starts second in the 500 on Sunday. It’s the same accomplishment as his countryman, Juan Pablo Montoya, achieved in 2000 – Montoya went on to win the race.

Munoz is the fourth driver to race in both IndyCar and Indy Lights at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the same month. He had his first IndyCar test at Texas in March, and described his preparation for the month of May during the Long Beach weekend.

“I had had a really good day (in Texas), and I got very comfortable in the car,” Munoz told me at Long Beach. “I knew we had to go step-by-step; learn the track, learn the car and everything. We got faster and faster but I knew we had a really good car for the Indy 500.”

Easy for him to say at the time, but him following through in reality was a tough ask. So far, Munoz has passed with flying colors.

Running an aggressive line through Turn 1, Munoz has flirted with disaster with entering late and then diving underneath the white line. But it appears to be working. He’s stepped into a car, the No. 26 Unistraw Chevrolet, that has been among – if not the – quickest of the five-car Andretti armada this month.

“In the beginning, I was really nervous about it. But once I was in the car, everything was clear,” Munoz said after qualifying for the 500. “It seems easier on the TV. For four laps you have to be really precise each lap. If you turn a little bit later or a little bit earlier, the whole car is different.”

Thursday marked the first time this month Munoz shifted back to his regular car in Indy Lights. He qualified second there, as well, behind Sage Karam. The focus Friday shifts solely to Lights, even though there’s Carb Day practice for IndyCar beforehand.

“We had so much fun last year in that race because we were overtaking all the time,” Munoz said Thursday. “But I am going one-by-one. I am focusing first with Indy Lights – then I will focus on the Indy 500.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway unveils logo for 2019 Indy 500

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The 102nd Running of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials are already thinking about next year’s Indy 500.

Speedway officials on Friday unveiled the logo for the 103rd running of the 500 next year, which will be held on Sunday, May 26, 2019.

According to a Speedway media release, “The logo for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 includes bold, dynamic features that will form the core of future logos for ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’”

 

In addition, the new logo, according to the release, “is athletic, prestigious and confident and includes a rich navy blue that contrasts with gold, the color of the iconic Wing and Wheel logo of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“A row of red bricks race upward and forward, referencing the bricks that formed the track’s surface for decades and remain present today in the famous Yard of Bricks at the start-finish line.”

The logo will serve as part of a new branding system that will feature it as part of future logo designs, as well.

“This new logo system is an exciting step forward for the identity of the Indianapolis 500,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “The 103rd Indianapolis 500 logo, created within this system, salutes the traditions and legacy of the race while looking ahead to its bright future.”

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