Carlos Munoz at Indy, 2015.

Munoz hopes to follow in footsteps of longtime hero, win Indy

Carlos Munoz looks towards Sunday with aspirations of winning the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 15 years after his childhood hero Juan Pablo Montoya.

Montoya, currently with Team Penske, won the event in 2000 with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. The Columbian started second and dominated the race, leading 167 of 200 laps en route to victory.

As Munoz gets ready for his third career Indy 500, he goes into it with no difference in his preparation. With two previous finishes in the top four, who could blame him?

The native Columbian made his Indianapolis 500 debut in 2013, tasting the lead for 12 laps on his way to finishing second behind Tony Kanaan and earning Indy 500 Rookie of the Year.

Last year the Andretti Autosport driver scored a fourth place result.

This year doesn’t come without its fair share of struggles.

The Honda aerokit had put the Andretti Autosport organization in the mix at the top of the scoring pylon with Chevrolet powerhouses such as Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing. However, after multiple crashes in which multiple Chevrolet powered teams got airborne, changes to the superspeedway aero package were made to limit the risk for teams.

The mandatory adjustments made by IndyCar hurt Honda in qualifying, with the highest driver being Munoz’s teammate Justin Wilson, who ended up sixth.

When asked if he anticipates Honda being at a disadvantage on race day, Munoz said, “It’s hard to judge. You don’t know where you really are until the race starts. With the package, you don’t know how the car behaves. It’ll be a new challenge for the race.”

The challenge to equal is racing hero 15 years later is more daunting than in previous years. Munoz will start the race from the 11th position, the furthest he has started in the Indianapolis 500.

The Columbian spared no thoughts how much accomplishing such a feat would mean to him.

“It would mean a lot to me,” said Munoz. “For me personally, my career goals would be achieved with that win. I fight for this, for my country, for my sponsors and for my team. But I have to win first.”

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Joey Barnes is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Motorsports Tribune. He has covered auto racing since 2013 that has spanned from Formula 1 to NASCAR, with coverage on IndyCar. Additionally, his work has appeared on Racer, IndyCar.com and Autoweek magazine. In 2017, he was recognized with an award in Spot News Writing by the National Motorsports Press Association.

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