Munoz impresses in debut

2013-05-26T18:30:00Z 2013-06-03T21:31:29Z Munoz impresses in debutTim Cronin Times Correspondent
May 26, 2013 6:30 pm  • 

SPEEDWAY | Carlos Munoz must have high standards.

He finished second in his first Indianapolis 500, and was momentarily disappointed. Then he realized what he had accomplished at the tender age of 21.

“I really wanted to fight for the win,” Munoz said. “Maybe I could win, maybe not, but I really wanted to fight.”

Munoz, an Indy Lights rookie from Colombia, hadn’t run any IndyCar race before Sunday. To debut so spectacularly, and in the 500 to boot, bodes well, if he can get a regular ride.

“Hopefully in the future, I will be able to drink milk,” Munoz said, referring to the 500 winner’s tradition. “Right now I’m thirsty. I think I had a great car and a great shot to overtake (winner Tony Kanaan) on the front straight, But you never know. He did a great job.”

Andretti fourth: The Andretti family is now 1-of-68, or batting .0147, in the Indianapolis 500.

Marco Andretti, who knows all about the Andretti Curse, led 31 laps on Sunday, third-most in the topsy-turvy race, but finished fourth when Kanaan and Munoz sped around Ryan Hunter-Reay on the final restart. Grandpa Mario, the 1969 winner, remains the only Andretti to drive into victory lane in the 500.

“I knew it was going to come down to that at the end,” Andretti said.

Andretti last pitted on the 189th lap, needing fuel and a tweaking of the car’s aerodynamics. A twist of the front wing control adjusted the car closer to the qualifying setup, but he wasn’t the only one to do so. In the end, it didn’t help.

“When we stopped, we were in the worst-case scenario,” Andretti said. “We got stuck behind some teammates (Munoz and Hunter-Reay). It was fun for a while, but we just got shuffled back.”

As balm, Andretti can take solace that he leads the IndyCar point standings with 168, 11 ahead of Takuma Sato. An Andretti hasn’t led in open-wheel points since Marco’s father Michael led CART during the 1998 season.

Chevrolet dominates: Chevrolet-powered Dallaras took the top four places, and seven of the top 10 spots. The highest-finishing Honda-powered car was Justin Wilson’s. He grabbed fifth place for car owner Dale Coyne.

“I think we had a great run today,” Wilson said. “The draft had a great effect. Everybody was quick, and we just couldn’t get close enough.”

Around the track: Pole-sitter Ed Carpenter led the most laps (37) but was shuffled back to 10th place. He didn’t complain about his car, but a puff of smoke at the rear of the car on the pace lap was curious. ... Kanaan is the first driver to win both the Indianapolis 500 and the U.S. 500, CART’s ill-fated answer to Indy. He’ll be the only one to win both. The other three U.S. 500 winners are Jimmy Vasser (with Kevin Kalkhoven one of Kanaan’s car owners), Alex Zanardi and the late Greg Moore. ... J.R. Hildebrand was the first driver out after swiping the wall on the exit of Turn 1 on the fourth lap. He was uninjured. ... The purse will be announced before Monday’s Victory Banquet. ... The crowd of about 225,000 was under capacity, the infield crowd not making up for empty seats everywhere but the big first turn grandstand. ... The gallery was also well-behaved, even before the race. Indiana State Police reported only seven arrests overnight, uncommonly low.

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