Archive for the ‘Verizon Indycar Series’ Category

Carlos Munoz Outclassed All Rookies in 2014

Monday, January 5th, 2015

12.31.14 (via Next Gen Indy) – The 2014 IndyCar season had 23 full time drivers, four of those were rookies to the IndyCar series.  Carlos Huertas, Jack Hawksworth, Mikhail Aleshin, and Carlos Munoz were the drivers getting their first full season shot in one of the premiere open-wheel series.  One of these rookies made his presence in the series well known and stood out among the others, Colombian racing driver Carlos Munoz.


Munoz drove for Andretti Autosport in the 2014 season along with IndyCar veterans Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and James Hinchcliffe.  The 22 year old is on the younger side of the grid in terms of time behind the wheel, but showed no trouble getting up to speed with the more experienced field throughout the season.  He recorded nine top-ten finishes in the season, including three podiums for third place each time.  Of those top-ten finishes, five were within the top five.  His average finishing position for the year came out to 10.6, roughly four positions higher than the next best rookie, Mikhail Aleshin (14.4).


It’s not that Munoz didn’t have races that caused him some trouble (see below), but he was able to offset the poor results with better ones, something the other rookies failed to do.




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2014: A year of struggle in Indiana sports

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

12.25.14 (via – The box score is pedestrian, with Ryan Hunter-Reay officially leading the final four laps of the Indianapolis 500. Only it was better than that. Much better.


Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves staged a classic duel, swapping the lead three times during those final four laps to finish with the second-closest margin in race history (0.06 seconds). Only Al Unser Jr.'s win over Scott Goodyear in 1992 was closer at 0.043 seconds.


Hunter-Reay took the lead for the final time just ahead of the start/finish line on Lap 199, but it was his move two laps earlier in Turn 3 that was most memorable. He faked to the outside, then nearly drove his car to the grass for an inside pass.


"A daredevil move," Goodyear called it.


Hunter-Reay not only earned his first 500 victory, he became the first U.S.-born winner since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006. Andretti Autosport scored its third victory; Castroneves was denied his fourth.


"I'm a proud American boy, that's for sure," Hunter-Reay said in victory lane.




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Seco supports Andretti Autosport racing

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

12.23.14 (via – Andretti Autosport CNC machinist Adam Erwin looks over the suspension dampers he just finished crafting for his team. Less than a day ago, the collection of dozens of tiny parts were just an engineer’s idea and a slab of metal, a dream to shave 0.1 seconds off a lap time.

That’s the life of an autosports machinist. Every day, 25 pairs of eyes scrutinize every race car component he machines – from the engineers and mechanics who design and install the parts to the drivers and sponsors who rely on them for victory. Each one of them expects Erwin’s parts to be precise, resilient, and aesthetically perfect before they can be used in an Andretti Autosport Indy car.

Like its cars, Andretti Autosport works fast. Based in Indianapolis and led by racing legend Michael Andretti, the team operates under stringent time constraints where every component must be perfect and produced as quickly as possible. And while many parts must remain stock to ensure an even playing field for all drivers, teams can make some vehicle modifications. This is where Erwin and the Andretti team’s other in-house CNC machinists come into play.

Suspension components and dampers (shock absorbers) are two major car features open to modification. Racing teams will often develop new, proprietary parts to continually improve car performance and shave valuable seconds off lap times.



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Zach Veach thankful and anxious as 2015 IndyCar ride looms ahead

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

12.14.14 (via – The pieces look to be finally falling into place for 20-year-old Zach Veach, after five years of climbing the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system with Andretti Autosport.


Veach, the fresh faced young gun with the poise of a veteran, says he is “close” to having a full-season ride sewn up in the Verizon IndyCar Series for the 2015 season.


“We’re really, really close to having a full-time IndyCar deal done for 2015,” Veach said to Race Chaser Online during last Monday’s edition of Motorsports Madness. “It’s not signed yet, but we’re in the final stages of it so hopefully we can get that put together and you guys will find us in the fourth car at Andretti Autosport – running the big series.”


The Ohio native was in contention for this season’s Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship all the way to the final weekend of the year – starting strong with two wins in the first three races (St. Petersburg and Barber 1) and keeping his hopes alive with a clutch triumph at Milwaukee – before mechanical troubles at Sonoma took him out of the title hunt.


Despite not coming away with his ultimate goal of a championship, Veach is still grateful for a campaign that produced three wins, nine podiums, 11 top-fives and four poles, placing him third in the points rundown behind eventual champion Gabby Chaves and British rookie Jack Harvey.


“I’m just very thankful,” Veach said of his campaign this year. “I mean, this past season we really just showed me [that] how much you work at something, or what you put in, is what you get [back] in return. 2013 wasn’t the year we wanted so we tore everything down and rebuilt it from the ground up and really put together the year that I wanted to have in 2014.”




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Hunter-Reay prepares to take on the world

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

12.10.2014 (via – It might be a fun, get-to-know-you all-star event, but once helmets are strapped on it transitions to a serious competition.

That’s Ryan Hunter-Reay’s assessment of the Race of Champions, which he’ll participate in Dec. 13-14 at the Bushy Park Circuit in Barbados.


The event brings together some of the world’s greatest drivers from major disciplines – the Verizon IndyCar Series, Formula 1, World Rally, Le Mans, MotoGP and NASCAR – for head-to-head contests in identical machinery on a parallel course.


Hunter-Reay, the reigning Indianapolis 500 Mile Race champion, competed in the Race of Champions in Thailand following his 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series championship season. The event was not held in 2013.


“It is all fun and casual, and everybody is patting each other on the back until you line up next to each other and it’s like the championship is on the line,” said the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resident who will enter his sixth season with Andretti Autosport in 2015. “You have an opportunity to beat some of the best drivers in the world.”


Other competitors include Tom Kristensen (nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner), Romain Grosjean (Lotus Formula 1 driver, reigning ROC Champion of Champions), Jamie Whincup (five-time V8 Supercar champion), Petter Solberg (2014 FIA World Rallycross champion), José María López (2014 FIA World Touring Car champion), Esteban Ocon (2014 FIA European F3 champion), Mick Doohan (five-time 500cc MotoGP world champion), David Coulthard (13-time Formula 1 Grand Prix winner), Jolyon Palmer (2014 GP2 champion), Susie Wolff (Williams F1 test driver), Robby Gordon (four-time BAJA 500 winner and Hunter-Reay's brother-in-law), and Kurt Busch (2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race Rookie of the Year).


Hunter-Reay and Busch, Andretti Autosport teammates for the Indy 500 in May, will represent the U.S. in the Nations Cup competition.


“I look forward to working with Kurt again,” Hunter-Reay said. “It’s an honor to be the company of champions from around the world.”




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Hunter-Reay’s likeness revealed on Borg-Warner trophy

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

12.3.2014 – After recording the second-closest finish in the history of the Indianapolis 500, Ryan Hunter-Reay was able to relive his victory once more in front of a crowd of fans, team members and with wife Beccy and son Ryden at his side at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum tonight. The 2014 Indy 500 champion’s likeness was unveiled on the Borg-Warner trophy making the 33-year-old’s face the 101st to appear on the sterling silver masterpiece.
In addition to adding Hunter-Reay’s profile to the Borg-Warner, the DHL driver will receive a “Baby Borg” – a free-standing replica of the original that stands at 18-in tall. The replica will be presented to the two-time ESPYS Best Driver award winner in January during the week of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich.
“Winning the Indy 500 is a dream come true," the Florida resident noted. "The whole process is so surreal because it happens so fast. It’s an achievement you work your entire career to attain and then all of a sudden you drink the milk and the next thing you know you’re at a street circuit in Detroit. You don’t get to really think about it much afterward. So seeing my face on the Borg-Warner Trophy, which transcends motorsports, makes it all sink in. From the first time I sat in a go-kart, it was me winning the Indianapolis 500. Now just to have my name on the Borg-Warner Trophy next to the legends of the sport means the most to me.”

Karting event produces smiles all around

Monday, December 1st, 2014

12.1.2014 (via – From spirited racing on the track to high spirits among spectators, the fourth Race of the Stars over the weekend at Autodrome Tocancipa near Bogota, Colombia, was a resounding success for the Formula Smiles Foundation.
Helio CastronevesThe event, hosted by Juan Pablo Montoya and his wife Connie, featured fellow Verizon IndyCar Series drivers in two karting races. Carlos Munoz, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series’ Sunoco Rookie of the Year, won the first race and finished second in the second. Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti placed second and Montoya, who completed his first season with Team Penske, was third.
“It was an amazing day,” said Munoz, 22, of Colombia. “We had fun. There were fights on the track and that was good for the show. Thank you very much to all who were there and hope you had a great time. I also want to thank Juan Pablo Montoya and Connie Montoya for the invitation and congratulate them for this great event.”
Gabby Chaves, the 2014 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion, won the second race. Carlos Huertas, who drove for Dale Coyne Racing in his first Verizon IndyCar Series season, finished third. New Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud was fourth in both races.
Proceeds from the event benefitted the non-profit Formula Smiles, which the Montoyas founded in 2003. The program uses sports to help Colombian youth achieve the Millennium Development Goals and thus reduce poverty and violence in the country.

IndyCar 2014 Review: P6 – Ryan Hunter-Reay

Monday, December 1st, 2014

12.1.14 (via - David Malsher says…
Carlos Reutemann, one of the greatest F1 drivers never to win the World Championship, considered James Hunt slightly crazy, and when he’d spot the ’76 World Champion in his mirrors, never put up much of a fight in case his attacker did something over the edge that hurt them both. An amused Hunt did everything he could to perpetuate Reutemann’s perception of him and considered this part of his armory.
I’m sure Ryan Hunter-Reay doesn’t deliberately do the same to his rivals, but I wonder how many of them get distracted by the sight of that yellow nosecone filling their mirrors. The 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion has earned a reputation for trying to pass anything and anyone in front of him and reminds me of his team owner, Michael Andretti, at the height of his driving powers. Accepting second best just isn’t in RHR’s game, and if that means he occasionally screws up through overambition, well, that’s just the way he is.
“With this field so competitive, you’ve got to take chances,” said Ryan explaining his philosophy this year. “If I see a gap, I’m going to go for it. I mean, you can’t wait around hoping for a better chance because it may never happen. If it’s there, take it now.”
RHR-front3qHaving said that, even RHR would confess that the post-Indy 500 melee – the first American in eight years to win the world’s biggest race, remember – meant he wasn’t at his best in Detroit a week later, when he damaged his car on three separate occasions. He also came to admit his attempted pass on Josef Newgarden at Long Beach in April was too optimistic at that corner, and waiting until Turn 9 would have served him better. But to be honest, Ryan should be more troubled by his unforced errors that caused him to spin out of contention at Fontana and Mid-Ohio, as they probably cost him top-three finishes on both occasions.
Still, let’s not paint the picture of a wild man. It was Will Power, not Hunter-Reay, who kept pushing the limit of his braking point at Barber Motorsports Park as the track dried and eventually slid on into the grass, and so it was the Andretti Autosport driver who pulled into Victory Lane. Equally, RHR retained his self-control as he vainly pursued Power for victory at St. Petersburg. And let’s not forget how at Indy, Hunter-Reay perfectly blended calm methodology (to pick his way through to the front) with daring and inspiration when it came time to defeat a three-time “500” winner in a straight duel to the checkers.
Hunter-Reay was struck by a few mechanical failures but the ones that really stand out came in the races Texas, Pocono (double-points) and Milwaukee because they all cost him top-five finishes, at least. Without errors and engine issues, Hunter-Reay would probably have finished at least third in the championship rather than sixth. As for the chancy passing attempts, I regard 75 percent of them as merely the flip-side of a talent that also produces some of an IndyCar season’s most memorable moments.

IndyCar 2014 Review: P8 – Carlos Munoz

Monday, November 24th, 2014

11.24.2014 (via – Marshall Pruett says…
Carlos was shot out of a rocket during most of his rookie IndyCar season. He stood on the podium at Long Beach, the second race of the season, and continued on a roll that had the 22-year-old Colombian (22!) holding sixth in the standings through Iowa, the 12th of 18 races on the calendar.
The Munoz train would start to derail at Toronto where a pair of 17th places followed by a 22nd at Milwaukee and a 19th at Sonoma took a bit of shine off his pre-Toronto body of work. The end result was eighth in the championship, nestled between Tony Kanaan and teammate Marco Andretti in the final standings.
If you detect a slight tone of disappointment in what I’ve written so far, it’s because Munoz slammed the rookie wall much harder than expected. Rounds 1 through 12 came easy to Carlos—that Long Beach podium, a fourth at the Indy 500, another podium at Houston 1 and then another podium at Pocono served as incredible highs that more than counterbalanced his craters at Barber, the GP of Indy and Houston 2.
You expect rookies to be inconsistent, and Munoz met those expectations perfectly, but when he was on, the kid looked like a future IndyCar champion. The final 33 percent of the season exposed Munoz’s youth and inexperience, and that isn’t something to be held against him.
Teamed with the excellent engineer Garrett Mothersead, Carlos was a revelation in 2014, put some big names behind him in the championship, and by all accounts, overachieved. He was the second best driver at Andretti Autosport—just two spots behind team leader, Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, and that’s something no one would have predicted.
I'm curious to see where he fits on the grid in 2015. With a touch of consistency, he moves up a few positions in the standings, but does he have an extra gear to mix it up with Power, Dixon, RHR, Pagenaud and the other beasts on a regular basis?

IndyCar 2014 Review: P9 – Marco Andretti

Friday, November 21st, 2014

11.21.2014 (via - Robin Miller says…
After leading 30 laps and finishing third in the Indianapolis 500, Andretti stood fifth in the Verizon standings and was looking like championship material. The third generation driver had a second at Barber to go with an eighth at Long Beach and he’d qualified in the Top 10 three of four times on street and road courses.
Maybe, in his ninth season driving for his father’s team he was about to make that long-awaited breakthrough.
But, from the Midwest swing starting in Detroit until the west coast finales, things went south for the 27-year-old native of Nazareth. He managed only three eighths and a pair of ninths in another disappointing Marco-Indyseason that was represented in his ninth place in the rankings.
It’s a mystery how he can look like a world-beater one minute and just another guy the next but the lack of consistency has been Marco’s constant companion. He’s got the Andretti genes on ovals but road race/street course qualifying remains his biggest detriment. It looked like early in 2013 he’d made big strides but was back to his old self in 2014 – his average starting spot was 16th for the last eight races when forced to turn right and left.
If the season ran 10 times on the oval at IMS, he’d be a contender every year because he’s always in the lead pack. But, until he can get a handle on the bulk of the races, the Month of May will have to be his Holy Grail.
Marshall Pruett says…
History would suggest Marco Andretti is the seventh, eighth or ninth best IndyCar driver since his rookie season in 2006, and I’d have to agree.
Nine years into his IndyCar career, Marco has ended up seventh, eighth or ninth in the standings on six occasions – 66 percent of the time. It makes his ninth-place finish in 2014 less of a surprise, and more of a confirmation that it’s where he belongs.
Granted, I’m not saying his talent is limiting him to P7/P8/P9–we know he's better than that, but it is where he tends to settle at the end of most seasons. The anomaly, of course, was 2013, when he made a spirited run to fifth in the championship. As many of us chronicled at the time, he spent the off-season receiving coaching to address his shortcomings, and responded by landing on the podium at Round 1, another podium at Round 4, and captured seven top-6 finishes.
His biggest strides were made on strMarco-HondaLogoeet courses, yet in 2014, it looked like most of his hard work was undone. Those storming drives were rarities this year, other than a fine run to second at Barber and another third-place at the Indy 500.
If I’m honest, I don’t remember much of Marco’s season, and that’s not due to forgetfulness; it’s because it wasn’t particularly memorable. He was rarely that far off the pace, had Danica-like consistency with eight top-10s, but like his former teammate, the numbers are misleading: Six of those eight top-10s were finishes of eighth, ninth or 10th.
It all added up to a decent average—enough to place Marco ninth in the standings, but in a field of 21 full-time entries, being slightly better than the bottom half of the field isn’t what I expect from the 27-year-old. He finished one position behind his rookie teammate Carlos Munoz, which is another statistic that should serve as an embarrassment and a motivator.
One thing that wasn't Marco's fault took place in the engine bay: If there was smoke trialing from someone's exhaust pipes in 2014, it tended to be Marco's No. 25 Honda. Minus the explosions, he could have finished higher in the standings, but keep in mind that those ahead of him also had blowups or crashes that left points on the table. Regardless, engine reliability wasn't on his side.
Marco gave us a brief glimpse of what he can achieve when he humbles and applies himself. P5 in 2013 wasn’t a fluke, which makes his regression in 2014 yet another reason to be frustrated with his inconsistent output.