IndyCar 2014 Review: P8 – Carlos Munoz
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?