IndyCar Drivers To Know: Carlos Muñoz
A year after declaring that he would one day win at Indy, can two-time runnerup finally clinch victory?
One year ago, Carlos Muñoz stepped out of his car at the conclusion of the 100th Indianapolis 500, embraced his crew, and broke down in tears.
Muñoz then walked into the media center to address the circus of reporters and photographers waiting on race winner and teammate Alexander Rossi, who had stretched his fuel and defeated Muñoz.
With tears in his eyes, Muñoz addressed the media and declared, “I will win this race one day.”
Colombian Carlos Muñoz had once again finished second in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” His second runner up finish since his rookie year in 2013.
Most drivers would look at a second place run at Indianapolis and be pleased with the result. They would take the momentum from the runner up finish and build on it for next year.
However, for Muñoz, second isn’t good enough.
“When I was younger, I knew it was a big race,” says Muñoz. “I saw Juan [Montoya] win and I knew it was a big deal for Colombia.”
Growing up in Bogota, Colombia, Muñoz was a big fan of two-time race winner Juan Pablo Montoya, who also shared his hometown.
“I started watching [Juan] in 1999, his first season. He won the championship and it was very big for Colombia. There weren’t a lot of athletes from Colombia doing well in sports, so he was the big boom for Colombia,” says
Muñoz on his hero Montoya.
Muñoz recalls watching the 2000 Indianapolis 500 at home with his father and cheering on Montoya to win the race.
After Montoya took the checkered flag, Muñoz looked out into the streets of his hometown and saw pandemonium.
“Everybody was running out into the streets, cheering, making noise, shooting fireworks, it was as if Colombia had just won a football match.”
This experience showed Muñoz just how important the Indianapolis 500 was not just for racing, but for his country as well.
This year, Muñoz has moved to a new team, A.J. Foyt Enterprises. He has a new engine supplier in Chevrolet, and one teammate in native Hoosier Conor Daly compared to his three with Andretti Autosport.
The added pressure of driving for legend A.J. Foyt hasn’t phased Muñoz. His drive to win at Indianapolis still burns as deep as it did before. In fact, for Muñoz, he feels even less pressure.
“Whether it’s the 100th or the 101st, it’s still the Indy 500 and it’s really special for everyone, especially it would be great for A.J. Foyt.”
Muñoz will start 24th for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500, his worst start in the race in four previous efforts. However, Muñoz has a feeling a win this year, with the added difficulty, will make the race even more special.
“It’s just like a girl. When it’s hard to get the girl, you just want her more. When it’s an easy girl, it doesn’t mean that much.”
Muñoz wants to win the Indianapolis 500 more than any other race. He wants to bring pride and nationalism back to Colombia. He wants to beat his childhood hero, Juan Pablo Montoya.
There is only one goal for Muñoz this Sunday, and that is to win the Indianapolis 500.