DETROIT (May 30, 2015) – Carlos Munoz earned his first career Verizon IndyCar Series victory as severe weather prompted a red flag with 47 of 70 scheduled laps in Race 1 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park.
Munoz, 23, joins Carlos Huertas and Josef Newgarden as Verizon IndyCar Series race winners born in the 1990s, and he joins Newgarden as a first-time winner this season. There have been six different winners in the seven races, and for the second consecutive race the winner is a native of Colombia. Juan Pablo Montoya won the 99th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 24.
Munoz, who started 20th in the AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda, picked up the lead on Lap 40 when Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti pitted for fuel and Firestone rain tires in anticipation of rain returning to the area. Munoz remained on track for an additional two laps, building a 26-second lead on Andretti, before also pitting for rain tires.
“I wanted to win 100 percent and with all the laps,” said Munoz, who joined Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud as drivers who claimed their first Indy car victory at Belle Isle. “Racing is racing, which is what happened with the weather. It was a great call with the strategy and a great result for the team with a 1-2 (finish). I had the fuel to go laps longer. I wanted to get my first win by doing all the laps, but I’m really happy for my team.”
Andretti led a field-high 23 laps in the No. 27 Merchant First/Snapple Honda and secured his first top-three finish since the Indianapolis 500 last May.
“(Strategy) started very early in the race. We were running eighth and we had a bunch of strong guys in the front so it seemed like a no-brainer (to pit for Firestone primary tires on Lap 9) as long as I could keep it off the fence, which we were able to do,” Andretti said. “At the end I really didn’t want to come in, but we needed to get some fuel, and I knew whoever stayed out would beat me. It was good for an Andretti Autosport 1-2.”
It was the second victory of the season for Honda and its first 1-2 finish of the year.
Added team owner Michael Andretti, race strategist for the No. 27 entry: “In races like this, anything can happen and I felt very confident in our guys that they would get the job done.”
Pagenaud picked up his first podium finish in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet. Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and pole sitter Will Power placed fourth and Scott Dixon was fifth.
“Today was all about team effort and I can’t thank the No. 22 crew enough for a good strategy and a great call at any time,” Pagenaud said. “It was very dicey. We never knew when the rain was going to come. We could only look at the radar, but on the racetrack it wasn’t raining when they called me in so we had a few communication exchanges. We stayed out a bit longer and then made the call at the perfect time to jump to third and then get a first podium with Team Penske. I’m over the moon right now.”
Power is 11 points behind Team Penske teammate Montoya, who placed 10th, heading into the second scheduled 70-lap race on Belle Isle. Qualifications are at 11:25 a.m. (ET) May 31, with the race at 3:30 p.m.
WILL POWER (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Obviously, the rain throws your strategy off quite a bit. As one of the front-running cars we didn’t want to give up the track position to put on primary or ‘red’ Firestone tires once the track began to dry. After other teams started to do that we had to do it too. That’s what put us back in the pack a bit, but we were able to work our way back through the field for a top-five finish. The rain actually helped us because we were about to pit in a couple of laps. But I’m proud of my Verizon Chevy guys. They worked their tails off today.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It is what it is. As a driver you really like to have consistency with the weather. Unfortunately today we didn’t have it and that makes the race a bit of an unknown. We didn’t want to see the rain come back because we had already made our stop. We needed it to stay green so that we would get our track position back when the leaders pitted. That’s racing though. We know we have a good Verizon Chevy for tomorrow.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “Man, we had everything thrown at the Hitachi Chevrolet today. You never like to see that much rain at a racetrack. I hate it for Roger (Penske), Bud (Denker) and everyone that puts on this great race. They control everything they can, but the weather has a mind of its own. Our goal now is to come back tomorrow and make sure the trophy for the second race comes back to Team Penske.”
CONOR DALY (No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda): “We made a great call at the beginning of the race to jump a few guys on strategy. Then we ran really competitively with those guys at the front in the top eight and honestly, we were just the victim of a restart bunch-up. There were a couple cars that were going and stopping, going and stopping. Sadly, the accordion effect got us. I don’t think it’s really anyone’s fault, but we were just the victim. I think the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car was great and we had great pit stops. I was super happy to be running at the front, but we just have to go get ’em tomorrow.”
JAMES JAKES (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “It was just frustrating, really, but nice to finish twelfth after being two laps down. We were involved in an incident that wasn’t our fault, which was a shame because the No. 7 SPM MediaTech Honda was running in the top ten. We made a couple of good decisions early on and it felt like we were going to be in for a good day. It just wasn’t meant to be but there are some positives we can take away and there’s always tomorrow.”
SAGE KARAM (No. 8 COMFORT REVOLUTION / Big Machine Records Chevrolet): “I’m not sure what to make of it all today really. We had a good car but the weather kept changing and we were just honestly trying to predict what the track conditions would be like. It’s tough for the series and the fans in conditions like that but we tried our best today and we’ll put the same effort forth again tomorrow in the second dual.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “I wish the weather hadn’t affected the race like it did today. We made a call for rain tires before anyone else basically and just when it started raining they had to stop the race for lightning. I hope we get more running in tomorrow with the Target car.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 Taylor Swift Big Machine Records Chevrolet): “There’s not much to say about what happened today. We were only five laps in and we got put into the wall and then hit again right after. My rear wing was just gone and the guys weren’t going to be able to fix it in pit lane. I have to say though that my team did an excellent job getting the car back in the garage, repairing all of the damage, and then back out on-track. It might not seem like much, but we were able to make up another position by coming back out and finishing and in a championship this close, every point counts. Unfortunately we’ll have a lot to work on tonight to get ready to go back out and qualify and race tomorrow afternoon, but I know we can get it done and hopefully have a much better result in tomorrow’s race.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Mistic E-Cigs – KVSH Chevrolet): “It was obviously a very frustrating race. As usual we were racy in the beginning, in wet conditions and we seemed on pace, I passed Simon (Pagenaud) then there was a yellow that came out late and I got the call but lost a position to Dixon. Then it only went downhill from there. We tried to look at the tools we had weather wise and things did not go our way. So, we will just hit the reset button, wake up tomorrow and it will be a different day.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “What a race. The conditions gave me the opportunity and the conditions took our result as well. At the beginning of the race it was wet conditions, and I was really happy. Overtook cars one by one – (Juan Pablo) Montoya at first hairpin, then (Helio) Castroneves on the back straight and Will Power at Turn 1. It all looked really good. The ABC boys did a really good job on the first pit stop. We had a really fast pit stop so that helped me out. At that time already a number of the cars were on dry tires already so we shuffled around on the positions. After that, we saw the big rain coming so we came into the pit for wet tires, and then the rain didn’t come as soon as we thought so we had to stay on the wet tire longer than planned. That was a gamble that didn’t pay off. At the end of the day, it looked like our final pit stop might be a good call if they had continued the race but they didn’t. Our car was strong so hopefully we’ll have a good performance tomorrow.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda): “It’s unfortunate because the car was pretty good in the wet. When (Tony) Kanaan hit the tire wall he just bounced right out in front of me and there was no where I could go. That’s just the way these things go. It’s unfortunate but we’ve had a great season so far and the Steak ‘n Shake team will be back strong tomorrow.”
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “That is a frustrating end to the race after our strong qualifying effort. We came in early for wet tires as soon as it started to rain thinking it was going to be a pretty big storm. The rain ended up taking much longer to come than we thought and we ran a lot of laps on the rain tires in the dry track and when it actually rained, the tires were in bad shape for the rain and we had to pit again. I think there were a few cars in this position and we were one of them. The way the race played out just didn’t go our way and we have to hope for a better one tomorrow.”
RODOLFO GONZALEZ (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “As a team we did a great job figuring out what we needed to do to the car to have a good setup today. The pace was good and it is a shame I made a mistake and put myself a lap down. It is tough being a lap down because you have to worry about so much. I want to fight to keep my position because I could get that lap back but I also can’t hold up the leaders. When we went to slick tires there were a few puddles still and I hit one of them and went a bit wide into the wall. I’m really sorry for the guys who have to repair the car for tomorrow. Driving in these changeable conditions is tough, especially tough for me because I haven’t driven on a street circuit or in the wet since 2012. It is not an excuse, but the pressure was really high today to adapt to a lot of things. Hopefully, I can do a better job tomorrow and get the car to the end and finish the race.”
LUCA FILIPPI (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet): “We made the right call at the beginning of the race by going to slicks at the right time. We had a discussion between myself and the team, but that was the right decision. We were running for a solid podium position easily, but then the rain came back and the strategy changed. It worked out for other people that decided not to pit for wet tires when the rain first started. We made the right call at the beginning and got unlucky at the end. It was nice to get a top 10 position on a difficult day, but if it stayed dry I think we could have been on the podium.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet): “Today was all about team effort and I can’t thank the No. 22 crew enough for a good strategy and a great call at any time. It was very dicey. We never knew when the rain was going to come. We could only look at the radar, but on the race track it wasn’t raining when they called me in so we had a few communications exchanges. We stayed out a bit longer and then made the call at the perfect time to jump to third and then get a first podium with Team Penske.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda, Race Winner): “It feels OK. I wanted to win 100 percent and with all the laps. I feel very happy for my crew, the AndrettiTV Cinsay crew. They were really hoping for this win. Racing is racing, which is what happened with the weather. It was a great call with the strategy and a great result for the team with a 1-2 (finish). (How difficult were the conditions): “We knew before the race it would be a hard race because of the weather. I had the fuel to go laps longer. I was lucky that god was with me. I pitted three laps later than my teammate and then it started to rain a lot, so we decided to wait. I wanted to get my first win by doing all the laps, but I’m really happy for my team.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Merchant First / Snapple Honda, 2nd Place): “(Strategy) started very early in the race. We were running eighth and we had a bunch of strong guys in the front so it seemed like a no-brainer (to pit for Firestone primary tires on Lap 19) as long as I could keep it off the fence, which we were able to do. At the end I really didn’t want to come in (on Lap 40 pit) but we needed to get some fuel, and I knew whoever stayed out would beat me. It was good for an Andretti Autosport 1-2.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Congratulations to Carlos (Munoz) and Marco (Andretti) on the win and podium. The team did a great job with their strategy. Today just wasn’t our day though, we didn’t pick the right strategy and it bit us in the end. The plus side is we get to try again tomorrow.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “Today was definitely a fun race. There was a lot of action going on. I was at the back, at the front, then the middle and finished seventh in the end. The ABC car was really good. It was one of those 50/50 decisions whether you come in for wets or stay out on the drys. At least we were in a pretty good position from that point. We came in a little too early as it turned out and got jumped by a few people. But the car was really good and the guys were good on the stops, and that all kind of bodes well for tomorrow so hopefully we can have a good qualifying. Nice to score some points today.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet): “It was a good test of our perseverance and ability to fight through. I saw the Hartman Oil guys more times than I wanted to in the pits, but they were always ready and did a great job getting me back out. When you walk away with a top 10 on a crazy day like this, it’s not too bad. It’s difficult to predict what’s going to be happening within those rain segments, but we made the best calls we could at the time. That’s all you can do as it’s a gamble every time. Some guys it worked out for, some guys it didn’t. We obviously want to win, but getting a top 10 is something we can be happy for today and go try and win a race tomorrow.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir FlexTouch Chevrolet): “Today was just one of those days for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. We made a call to come in and go from wet tires to slicks and on my first out lap I hit a puddle and just couldn’t catch it. The No. 83 Levemir FlexTouch Chevrolet ended up in the wall and the damage was too extensive for us to get back out there. I think there’s a fine line between being aggressive and not going for it, and unfortunately today just didn’t go in our favor.”
GABBY CHAVES (No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins / Curb Honda): “We finished the race. We were disappointed with the speed of the car and the flat tire didn’t really help. I’m looking forward to getting back in the car tomorrow morning for qualifying and Race 2.”