Munoz wins rain-shortened first race in Detroit

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DETROIT – In the first race of a doubleheader where rain is stopping the race short of its scheduled distance, bet on Colombians named Carlos who have no career wins.

Last year, it was Carlos Huertas at Houston race one. Today, it was Carlos Munoz at Detroit race one.

Neither was predicted; both are now race winners.

The crucial portion of the race came once Munoz’s Andretti Autosport teammate, Marco Andretti, and Munoz both ran longer on dry slick tires – gapping the field by roughly eight to 10 seconds per lap on the low end – which allowed them both enough time to make their stops without losing the lead.

Meanwhile most of the rest of the field pitted to switch to rain tires, and that proved detrimental from an overall time standpoint.

Munoz, who started 20th in the 23-car field, took the lead on Lap 40 after Andretti pitted for rain tires when leading.

Munoz stopped himself two laps later but retained the lead.

On Lap 46, yellow was called for lightning, followed shortly thereafter by a red flag. Drivers were ordered out of their cars and the cars covered.

The race was called just before 5:30 p.m. ET, with Munoz leading Andretti and Simon Pagenaud; it’s the first podium of the year for all three drivers.

Will Power and Scott Dixon completed the top five. Points leader Juan Pablo Montoya finished 10th, and Power should close 13 points on the day.

The race, coincidentally, nearly mirrors the end result of the time-shortened race at NOLA Motorsports Park to a T.

At NOLA, 47 laps were completed and two Hondas were on the podium from the same team. It marked the first podium of the year for race winner James Hinchcliffe, his teammate James Jakes and runner-up Helio Castroneves.

Today, there were 47 laps completed, with a Honda team having two of the top three finishers and a Team Penske driver completing the podium.

RACE RESULTS

DETROIT – Results Saturday of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans Race #1 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.35-mile Raceway at Belle Isle Park, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (20) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 47, Running
2. (9) Marco Andretti, Honda, 47, Running
3. (5) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 47, Running
4. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 47, Running
5. (7) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 47, Running
6. (2) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 47, Running
7. (14) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 47, Running
8. (18) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 47, Running
9. (19) Luca Filippi, Chevrolet, 47, Contact
10. (3) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 46, Running
11. (4) Takuma Sato, Honda, 46, Running
12. (10) James Jakes, Honda, 46, Running
13. (16) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 46, Running
14. (6) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 46, Running
15. (8) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 46, Running
16. (12) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 46, Running
17. (11) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 46, Running
18. (23) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 46, Running
19. (21) Conor Daly, Honda, 46, Running
20. (15) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 33, Running
21. (22) Rodolfo Gonzalez, Honda, 25, Mechanical
22. (17) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 13, Contact
23. (13) Graham Rahal, Honda, 5, Contact

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 75.510 mph
Time of Race: 1:27:45.7906
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 6 for 18 laps
Lead changes: 5 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Power 1-2
Sato 3-14
Andretti 15 -33
Power 34 – 35
Andretti 36 – 39
Munoz 40 – 47

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Montoya 292, Power 281, Dixon 241, Castroneves 234, Rahal 211, Newgarden 197, Andretti 194, Pagenaud 177, Bourdais 177, Munoz 173.

Tom Blomqvist keeps eye on IndyCar during impressive rise: ‘ I would love to give it a go’

Tom Blomqvist
Rolex/Stephan Cooper
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In between two of his latest superstar-driver-in-waiting performances, Tom Blomqvist walked through the Daytona International Speedway garage in anonymity.

“Nobody knows who the (expletive) I am,” he said to a team member with a laugh (and without a trace of being miffed), evincing the cheeky humor of someone born in England, raised in New Zealand and also of Swedish descent.

The lack of recognition in the garage might have been because he was clad in a relatively nondescript shirt, hat and sunglasses instead of a colorful firesuit covered by sponsor logos. But he also was on the way to a Friday race eve media availability where his entrance was greeted by only one reporter (after a few minutes).

During a news conference a day earlier, he sat patiently on the dais while his Indy 500-winning teammates and car owner fielded nearly all the questions – even though Blomqvist had turned maybe the most impressive lap of the month to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position in the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category.

The Meyer Shank Racing driver still might lack the attention commensurate with his already world-class CV (which expanded Sunday with his second consecutive Rolex 24  victory for MSR), but Blomqvist, 29, clearly isn’t bothered by it.

He carries the quiet confidence of knowing his immense talent will ensure results that will make him impossible to ignore.

“To a degree, I guess, it’s definitely ramped up a lot for me,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports. “In America, I’m starting to get a lot more (attention). In the last year, I’ve quite often got a lot of maybe what you’d call the glory moments. It’s been fun. And within the paddock, there’s a lot of respect for me anyway. It’s been good.”

There have been several moments of acclaim since he joined MSR barely a year ago in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In his first start for the team at last year’s Rolex 24, Blomqvist turned in a Herculean performance to position the No. 60 Acura for the victory (giving way to Helio Castroneves because he was too “cooked” to complete the last 74 minutes).

He was even better this year at Daytona.

He ripped off a monster “one and done” pole-winning lap to beat the clock in qualifying on the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course. During the race, Blomqvist was as dominant in his first stint as his last in the ARX-06 while taking the checkered flag. He set the mark for the fastest time on Lap 6 that no one topped over the final 755 laps.

The 10 fastest laps in the race belonged to Blomqvist, carrying over his speed from the 2022 when he won the Petit Le Mans season finale to clinch the premier prototype championship at Michelin Road Atlanta.

A year earlier at the same track, he had burst onto the radar of car owner Mike Shank, who was intrigued by Blomqvist’s results as a BMW factory driver in the Formula E and DTM series. In 2014, Blomqvist also finished between second in F3, between champion Esteban Ocon (now with Alpine’s F1 team) and Max Verstappen (who has won the past two Formula One championships).

“He did a lot of high-level stuff, and then kind of fell out of favor, or I don’t know what happened, but he was a free agent,” Shank said. “I started looking at his numbers, and I’m like, ‘We should test this guy. So I take him to Road Atlanta in the fall of ’21, and he got in the car and just slayed it.”

Within minutes, he had called co-owner Jim Meyer.

“I’ve got our guy,” Shank said. “This is our guy. There’s no question about it.

“Now what’s happened, though, and I think if you look back at the Rolex here last year (and) what he did, he’s a gold nugget. He reminds me a little bit when (Robert) Wickens came into IndyCar out of DTM (as a rookie in 2018).

“He truly believes he’s the fastest guy out there, and he proved it (at the Rolex 24).”

Said David Salters, president for Honda Performance Development: “We love Tom. He’s the real deal, isn’t he? Immensely talented, super smart, and on it.

The great thing about our teams, the strength in depth is tremendous. But if you look through the sports car racing now, that’s the standard you have to have. Tom, brilliant, Filipe (Albuquerque), brilliant. Ricky (Taylor). You can go through that list. They’re all superstars. Tom is awesome. His lap in qualifying quite frankly was unbelievable.”


Having conquered one of the world’s greatest endurance races twice with Acura, Blomqvist could be ticketed for the world’s biggest race next – the Indy 500 — with HPD’s primary brand.

He tested a Dallara-Honda for MSR last October at Sebring International Raceway, and while he plans to focus solely on IMSA this season, he remains very intrigued by IndyCar.

And with Castroneves, 47, beginning a one-year deal with MSR’s IndyCar team, there could be an obvious opening in 2024.

“Obviously, it’s not in the cards this year,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports the day before the Rolex. “Yeah, I would love to give it a go. To be honest, I think that would be an amazing step for me in my career. I enjoy the sports car stuff so much. It’s been really good to me lately. I really enjoyed the style of racing.

“But I feel like IndyCar would be a step up for me and my career. It would be fantastic if I could get that opportunity. But yeah, I guess I have to keep pushing Mike or something to give me a shot. But obviously for now, the focus is here in the sports car stuff. It’s not really down to me at the end of the day. And I’ve got to do my job and then the people who pay the bills and make the decisions obviously have to decide if that’s something worth pursuing.

“But yeah, I’d love to give it a go, and I definitely would be up for it.”

A transition from IMSA to IndyCar naturally would be easier than switching teams, but it also would be comfortable because Blomqvist already seems such a good fit at MSR.

It might have seemed an unusual pairing given his European-heavy background, but Blomqvist likes the Midwestern culture that’s been built at MSR. Based just outside Columbus, Ohio, the team’s shop has “no egos, and that just enables each and every one of to reach our potential.

“Obviously, with Honda, we obviously have some great resources, but we’re up against Porsche, BMW and some big heavy hitters in the motorsports world,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’ve got a huge team compared to them, but we’ve obviously got a very capable team, and I think that’s what has been so impressive and really, really nice to see about the work that’s been done. No stone has been left unturned.”


Blomqvist still is living in Europe and planning to commute for the nine-race GTP schedule (which has a nearly two-month break after the Rolex 24 until the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring). But though he’s “got good friends in America, so I do have places to stay,” he seems open to being based more permanently near MSR in America.

“Let’s see what the future brings, and if that means me spending more time over here,” he said. “It’s a fantastic team. It’s a different environment to what I’m used to. It’s obviously now a hugely successful team, but it is a small team. It does feel like a very small family-operated team, which it is. I think Mike’s really just built this thing. It hasn’t happened overnight. Mike’s a great guy and put a lot of trust and faith in me, and I played a relatively good part in some of the success last year. I was able to reward him and give him my all every time I’m on track, and he respects that. But we are still a small team. In the grand scheme of things, we still are a really, really small team.”

Blomqvist said the BMW factory program would have two or three times the staffing of MSR – just on one of its two GTP cars.

“But it’s not the number of people that makes a difference, it’s the quality of people, and obviously Mike and HPD are a fantastic operation to go racing,” Blomqvist said. “We’re racers at heart.

“I’ve been part of some big outfits, and the European way of working is very, very different to how people go about racing in America. I’d say it’s more seat of your pants. A lot of emotion and kind of rides on that competitive spirt, competitive nature and on their personalities. It’s a lot more pure. It feels very pure. You want to win, so we go out and don’t cut corners on trying to win.”

Though it’s aligned with Liberty Media and has big-budget backing and support from Honda Performance Development, MSR also is much less corporate than most GTP teams.

A longtime and respected team owner who has built a sponsor portfolio, Shank also describes his maniacal dedication to success as “messed up,” and he’s known for dropping vulgarities into postrace interview with his blunt and self-deprecating sense of humor.

With a more laid-back but sometimes just as biting demeanor, Blomqvist has become the team’s unquestioned leader behind the wheel

“I definitely feel a lot more immersed,” he said. “Within the team, I was a bit more of an unknown quantity the start of last year. Obviously after last season, the team trusts me a lot. And that gives me a lot of pleasure, pride and confidence. In this sport, confidence is a huge aspect of drivers’ psychology in a way. We’re in extremely high-pressure moments where my job is to perform under the pressure of these organizations and the brand as well.

“It’s just a good, healthy team to be a part of. It’s a high-pressure environment, but the team obviously have put a lot of faith in me, and I’ve been able to deliver for them on occasions.”