ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Carlos Munoz finished eighth after starting 12th in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda to kick off the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season, but that wasn’t the reason people were talking about him on Sunday in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Munoz contacted Graham Rahal into Turn 4, with the ensuing contact triggering an eight-car “parking lot.”
He was assessed a stop-and-go penalty for avoidable contact but even despite that, didn’t lose further positions than 14th and rebounded to end eighth for the day.
“We were looking good, but then the yellow flag came out and didn’t help us any,” Munoz said in the team-issued release.
“I ended up making a mistake trying to overtake (Charlie) Kimball, so we ended up crashing because of my move. It’s racing and I apologize to all of those who were involved in that incident.
“We ended up getting back into the race and we finished strong in the eighth position, not the result we were looking for, but we have to take all the possible points we can get this early on.”
It’s a nice sentiment from Munoz, who had both Graham Rahal and Conor Daly address the move post-race.
“He’s 10 car (lengths) back or something and T-bones me,” Rahal told NBC Sports post-race, as he finished 16th after starting sixth.
“He says to me, ‘Oh, my bad. My fault.’ Well, yeah, obviously. Everyone knows that.
“It ruined our day. We had a top-three car. We had to take our time as it was difficult to pass.
“I’m frustrated because we deserve better than people being idiots.”
Daly added, “I came out right in front of Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) and right in front of (Carlos) Munoz. And Hinch, I thought was a few laps down. I didn’t know if he would challenge, because I was fighting at the front.
“But he dove down inside into (Turn) 4, and I was gonna sort of let him have it, then Munoz went around the outside. We were three-wide into 4 and Munoz is on the outside, and came straight down into both of us. I must have clipped him, and honestly I have no idea what happened because I clipped the inside curb and the wheel came out of my hands. I thought the wing’s broken.
“But then we just overheated. A piece of either his car or our car came in the radiator, and we had to make another pit stop.”