With the Indianapolis 500 in the books and Tony Kanaan’s amicable face now immortalized on the Borg-Warner trophy, rookie driver Carlos Munoz will be forced to take second place with him back to the Indy Lights series, where he hopes to win the series title.
Away from the massive crowds, the national attention and a field of 32 other elite drivers, Munoz will undoubtedly continue to find success in the IndyCar Series development tour, where he leads the championship standings with the same Andretti Autosport team that gave him his chance today.
But, as Munoz emerged from his cockpit today, his crew applauding his epic performance, he looked into the camera for his post-race interview anguished and disappointed. The Columbian driver had been fast all weekend — fast enough to draw comparisons to fellow countryman Juan Pablo Montoya.
Munoz ran the most phenomenal race for a rookie since Montoya was able to capture victory 13 years ago. Consistently running in the top-five, Munoz’s race strategy was obviously a conservative one meant to keep the rookie out of trouble.
Flash forward to the end of the race — with all the strategy of 500 miles having worn many down and forcing uncommon mistakes out of normally flawless drivers, Munoz took the unconventional line on the outside to pass series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, putting him in the position everyone wanted to be in.
That caution never gave Munoz his chance, something a driver which has driven in around the world isn’t necessarily used to. The disappointment is understandable, it’s this competitive fire with which Munoz drives that will certainly lead him to great things, possibly with Andretti Autosport.
Carlos Munoz has nearly been to the pinnacle of American open-wheel Racing and will certainly one day reach it. With that in mind, the rookie needs to push the disappointment aside, store it, and use it to fuel the fire which great drivers have.
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