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.