Carlos Munoz provided several “wow” moments in his three IndyCar cameos this season. The Colombian will have a full season’s worth of opportunities to do so in 2014.
The long-awaited confirmation of his step up to IndyCar with Andretti Autosport was announced Monday morning. Munoz, the 2013 Indianapolis 500 runner-up and rookie of the year, will drive the team’s fourth Honda-powered car with his car number and sponsorship details to be announced at a later date. He replaces E.J. Viso in the seat, having also done so at the last race at Fontana on short notice.
“I don’t have the words to express right now how I feel.” Munoz said in the team’s release. “After so many years of racing and all the sacrifices – leaving my family in Colombia and going to Europe to race, then coming here to the U.S. – but finally, I’m a professional race car driver in the maximum category in America, IndyCar. I have to thank Andretti Autosport, and especially Michael Andretti, for this opportunity.”
Although he starred at Indianapolis, as an injury fill-in for Ryan Briscoe in Toronto at Panther Racing and again on the 2-mile oval in Fontana, Munoz admits he’ll have a lot to learn as the first member of IndyCar’s 2014 rookie class.
“With that, I have to work hard in all aspects – mentally and physically.” he said. I’m really happy and I’m looking forward to start practicing and testing. I also have to thank my family for all of their support all these years. Finally my dream has come true. Also to my fans for being here and believing in me; this is just the beginning.”
Munoz and teammate, 2012 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, will test today at Sebring. His two seasons in Indy Lights included four wins and five poles, but ill-timed issues this year cost him a shot at the series championship.
Unlike Tristan Vautier this year, there’s a good chance Munoz will have competition for rookie-of-the-year honors in 2014. Luca Filippi is close to a deal at Bryan Herta Autosport, Sage Karam has the scholarship funding available for a full season jump after winning the Indy Lights crown, and Conor Daly would be a viable fit at several different teams if he does not garner enough budget for a GP2 or World Series by Renault season in Europe.
Additionally, Michael Andretti was here in Austin this weekend and confirmed the team’s engineering change to move Craig Hampson, James Hinchcliffe’s 2013 engineer, into a team R&D role with Nathan O’Rourke coming into the fold from Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. No announcement on Munoz’s engineer was provided as yet.