Slightly more than two years after his IndyCar debut, Munoz is a winner


DETROIT – Two years ago in the Indianapolis 500, the term “the Munoz line” entered the vernacular inside Verizon IndyCar Series circles.

It was used to describe how ridiculously low Carlos Munoz went through the turns at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as he made his race debut in the Indianapolis 500.

While many thought this unheralded, but talented, then-21-year-old Colombian would wall it, Munoz didn’t, and the runner-up finish to popular first-time champion Tony Kanaan served as his arrival on the scene.

In the intervening two years since, it’s hard to say exactly what race has stood out best for Munoz as an encore.

He did well in pinch-hit roles for both Ryan Briscoe (Toronto) and E.J. Viso (Fontana) that year, and he scored three podiums a year ago, plus added another top-five in the Indianapolis 500.

None though, matched the otherworldly debut he had in the series’ biggest race.

But today in Detroit, Munoz finally had his moment, and seized it.

Running anywhere from eight to 10 seconds a lap quicker on slick tires than anyone else, save for his Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti and the third member of today’s podium in Simon Pagenaud, Munoz made hay before his last pit stop, although he was good on fuel.

He was leading until the race was called, but he’d put himself in position to be there despite starting 20th.

“When it rained a little bit, everyone came, and smart call, Simon and I still on the track,” Munoz said. “I knew for sure it would rain. We stayed. I had more fuel than Marco. I could push three laps harder than anyone else. That’s what make the gap so big.

“In the rain, after the rain, I was feeling really comfortable. I was pulling like two seconds a lap in the rain. After they say to slow down a little bit.”

Although Munoz is now a winner, he didn’t feel the happiest.

“My first win in IndyCar. Not the way I wanted to win. I want to win like 100 percent, all the laps complete. But a win is a win, like Marco says.

“You see my face.  I’m more happy for my crew than myself for the victory.  They say, A win is a win.  This is racing, this is what happens.”

Pagenaud, who was the last first-time winner in Detroit in 2013, recalled his triumph and told Munoz to savor the moment.

“Yeah, I can remember when it happened to me. It’s good memories. Just make sure you enjoy it, man, because it’s tough,” he said.

“This series is very competitive. Like Marco said, it’s not that easy to get a win. When you get that one win, make sure you enjoy it. Save it in your memory because you going to enjoy this moment. It’s your day.”

Added Andretti, who’s won only twice in his career and is currently in the midst of a four-year dry spell dating to Iowa 2011, “Yeah, I mean, I wish I had more wins in my career, there’s no question about it.  But, you know, I’m not giving up.  I’ll be as persistent as anybody out there.”

For Munoz, the memories shift back to that day as a rookie in Indy, and how quickly he moved on from the race and continued with the rest of his season, then in Indy Lights.

“On Monday after the race, I already forgot about that. I didn’t cross the finish line first, so nothing I could do. Everything can happen.”

And on Saturday in Detroit, the thing that happened was the potential being realized as Munoz joined the list of IndyCar race winners. He’s the second first-timer this year, after Josef Newgarden won at Barber last month.

Now he’ll join the list of drivers looking for number two.

Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points


Three riders remain locked in a tight battle with 17 points separating the leader Cooper Webb from third-place Chase Sexton and these are only a few Supercross numbers to consider entering Seattle.

Seattle Supercross numbers
Chase Sexton made a statement in Detroit with his second win of 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

For the fifth time in 10 rounds. Sexton, Webb, and Eli Tomac shared the podium in Detroit. Between them, the trio has taken 23 podiums, leaving only seven for the remainder of the field. Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia have two each with Aaron Plessinger scoring the other.

Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.

Tomac has won two of the last three Seattle races and those two wins in this stadium are topped only by James Stewart. Fittingly, if Tomac gets a third win this week, he will tie Stewart for second on the all-time wins’ list. Tomac tied Ricky Carmichael for third with 48 wins at Oakland and took sole possession of that spot with his Daytona win.

Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.

The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.

In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.

Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.

Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.

Last Five Seattle Winners

2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto

2022: Hunter Lawrence
2019: Dylan Ferrandis
2018: Aaron Plessinger
2017: Aaron Plessinger
2014: Cole Seely

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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Chase Sexton wins in Detroit, penalized seven points