Carlos Munoz will return to Andretti Autosport to contest the 2018 Indianapolis 500. The Colombian, who made his IndyCar debut with the team at Indy in 2013, completes a six-car lineup for the defending winners of the 500.
Known as a ringer at the world’s biggest sporting event, Munoz’s availability follows a turbulent 2017 season at A.J. Foyt Racing where limited results – in his first year with the team after departing Andretti – left him without a ride. The chance to reunite with Michael Andretti’s Honda-powered team came in an unusual setting.
“We started talking about the Indy 500 at Marco Andretti’s wedding,” Munoz told RACER. “Michael and [team VP] JF Thormann said they had a sixth car, all run in-house, and I liked this idea without having any extra teams involved. They said ‘we had a good team for you, good engineer, and good sponsors who will help a lot.’ We started talking and I signed.”
In four Indy 500 starts with Andretti Autosport, Munoz earned a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth as his best results, and even managed to haul Foyt’s entry up to 10th in May. Having come close to winning IndyCar’s greatest prize, Munoz admits he was worried the final Andretti Honda would be lost to a more famous driver with similar team history.
“I was scared when Danica Patrick said she wanted to do the Indy 500, that she’d have the full budget, but the team said not to worry and they would have it for me,” he said. “I think she contacted the team, but they said no.”
With Indy 500 wins in 2016 and again in 2017, Andretti likes the lineup he’s built with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Marco Andretti, Zach Veach, Stefan Wilson and Munoz for the month of May.
“We’re thrilled to have Carlos back in an Andretti car for the Indy 500,” he said. “There is no denying that Carlos has talent at [Indianapolis Motor Speedway], he’s finished runner-up twice and that has fueled his determination to get to victory lane. He has already built relationships with his teammates and many of those on our crew, so it should be a seamless process for our six cars when they head out for the first time together.”
Munoz is hopeful the Indy 500 opportunity will lead to more outings with Andretti. A full-time driver since his teens, the soon-to-be 26-year-old will enter 2018 with only one race on his calendar.
“I’m looking at IMSA and want to be part of a competitive Prototype team, but most of those are full,” he said. “So right now, it’s the Indy 500 and the plan is to try and work to do more races and try to do more 2019. One race a year would not be enough for me.”