Indy 500 runner-up Carlos Munoz sits second in the Firestone Indy Lights standings, just two points behind Sage Karam with two more races left to run. Earning the Lights title and the $500,000 advancement prize that comes with it from the IndyCar Series would help his graduation plans, but the 21-year-old’s future in the sport isn’t hanging on whether he wins the championship for his team, Andretti Autosport.
Team owner Michael Andretti told RACER the promising young Colombian will have a seat available in IndyCar next year, and based on the feedback from other sources, Munoz could be confirmed alongside Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay the only two drivers currently under contract for 2014 before the season finale in October.
“At the moment, he’s in the plans, we’re working on things to try to make it happen,” said Andretti. “There’s a good possibility he’ll be here. Will he be a fourth car, fifth car? We don’t know but we’re working on it right now. He’s in the plan; we’re trying to get something together.”
Munoz’s stirring performance in his debut at Indy (RIGHT) was a perfect indicator of how far he’s come on ovals, and after impressing the paddock while deputizing for an injured Ryan Briscoe during the second race at Toronto, there’s no question he’s ready to join the big leagues.
“Right now I’m quite confident I’ll be moving up,” Munoz told RACER. “I need to find some more budget for this, and Michael [Andretti] is helping me. The budgets for the best teams is more than the other teams, so I’m trying to find the budget to drive with the best team.”
Concluding a deal with Andretti is Munoz’s first choice, and represents his best chance at finding instant success. If he and the team are unable to find all of the money necessary to join the defending series champions, signing with one of the other contenders would be acceptable.
“Of course I always want to be in a winning car, but if I can’t find that much money, that’s OK, I don’t mind going to another team where I can show what I can do,” he confirmed. “Small teams don’t have the same things as Andretti or Ganassi, but a small team like Schmidt has shown they can win. Dale Coyne can win.
“I won’t be sad if I have to go to a smaller team, but I am trying to go to Andretti first and if I win the [Lights] championship, there’s no excuse not to move up.”