The monkey’s off Andretti Autosport’s collective back.
A monkey named “First Win” has been removed from the back of Carlos Munoz and team owner Michael Andretti, who watched the former earn his first Verizon IndyCar Series win in 28 attempts and his team’s first win of 2015 while Marco Andretti finished second.
The Colombian driver was in first when the rains returned to the first race of Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at the Raceway on Belle Isle.
But for Munoz, 23, the only word he could find to describe the moment was “OK.”
“(I) wanted to win 100 percent,” Munoz told ABC of the race that went 47 laps instead of 70. “But I feel really happy for my crew. Racing is racing. This is what happens.”
Munoz had started 20th, the deepest Andretti car in the field. Through a series of pit strategy decisions, Munoz took the lead from teammate Marco Andretti on Lap 40. After pitting two laps later, he still had the lead and Andretti was second.
“We knew before the race it would be a really hard race,” Munoz said. “I was lucky. This time God was with me.”
For Michael Andretti, it means he doesn’t have to wonder if any of his cars will win in 2015. Prior to Saturday, through six races, only Simona de Silvestro’s fourth place at NOLA and Ryan Hunter-Reay’s fifth at Barber were their only top-five finishes.
Its last win was with Ryan Hunter-Reay at Iowa last July.
“(It) feels really good. (We’ve had) hard times,” Michael Andretti said. “We’ve got the monkey off our back. We’re pushing hard, Honda’s pushing hard.”
Also pushing hard was his son Marco, who started calling the shots when it came to whether or not to pit early in the race, which put him in the lead for more than 15 laps. Marco is still looking for his first win since 2011, which was also at Iowa.
“Seemed like a no-brainer so long as I could keep it off the fence, which we did,” Marco Andretti said. “We needed to get some fuel. I knew whoever would stay out would beat me. I’m trying to get Snapple a win so bad.”
Said Michael: “(Marco) wanted to stay out. Or come in for slicks. I’m like ‘screw it we’re staying out.’ He knows what it’s like out there. In the end, that helped Carlos, because he came in later. In the end that was the difference. It came out right. Now we get to do it all over again tomorrow.”