IndyCar 2017 driver review: Carlos Munoz

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. After three full seasons in IndyCar and two preparation seasons in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport, Carlos Munoz endured a tough switch to A.J. Foyt Enterprises in 2017.

Carlos Munoz, No. 14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet

  • 2016: 10th Place, Best Finish 2nd, 1 Pole, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 50 Laps Led, 11.9 Avg. Start, 10.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 16th Place, Best Finish 7th, Best Start 8th, 0 Top-5, 6 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 17.2 Avg. Start, 13.8 Avg. Finish

Like teammate Conor Daly, Carlos Munoz entered into something of a no-win situation when joining A.J. Foyt Enterprises for 2017. Neither driver was hailed for their feedback with engineers and in Munoz’s case, he had a race engineer in Will Phillips whose most recent IndyCar experience was with the series itself – not either the Chevrolet or Honda aero kit. Plus, Munoz was going from a four-driver lineup at Andretti Autosport with decades of experience to a two-car lineup that had a combined four full-time seasons complete. Not an ideal scenario.

Munoz overachieved at times and banked a respectable haul of six top-10 finishes, with a best finish of seventh his second time out at Long Beach. He also dragged a car that really had no business ending in the top-10 to a 10th place at this year’s Indianapolis 500, which stood out as perhaps his most impressive drive of the year.

It was hard to quantify Munoz’s year as a proper success. Although he was generally faster than Daly and ended two spots higher in the points, Munoz fell back into his previous trap at Andretti Autosport of being one of the more anonymous drivers in the field. Daly, to his credit, had several moments where he clearly exceeded the machinery at his disposal to produce a “wow” race or two. Munoz rarely seemed to have the flair to produce an exciting moment. Considering this is the driver who established the “Munoz line” running below the white line in Indianapolis his rookie year of 2013, that was disheartening that he didn’t have that single, iconic take-note moment.

The quiet, likable and sporadically quick Colombian driver has been a part of the IndyCar fabric for four full-time seasons and part of a fifth. Yet at 25 years old, like fellow Foyt driver and Indy Lights graduate Jack Hawksworth a year ago, you wonder if Munoz’s career wheeling it regularly in IndyCar has already reached its zenith.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.