Munoz wins rain-short­ened Indy­Car in Detroit


Car­los Munoz un­der­stands that his first Indy­Car victory comes with a foot­note.

That won’t stop him from en­joy­ing it.

Munoz won Satur­day at Belle Isle when the race was called be­cause of rain af­ter 47 laps. The 23-year-old Colom­bian driver had a sub­stan­tial lead when a cau­tion flag came out with just over 30 min­utes re­main­ing in what was sup­posed to be a 2-hour race. The yel­low flag was due to light­ning in the area, and the race went un­der a red flag not long af­ter that.

Then the rest was called off, and Munoz had his first victory on the se­ries in 28 starts.

“Not the way I wanted to win,” Munoz said. “I wanted to win this one, 100 per­cent, all the laps com­plete. But a win is a win.”

The an­ti­cli­mac­tic end­ing shouldn’t de­tract from a bold per­for­mance by Munoz and An­dretti Au­tosport team­mate Marco An­dretti, both of whom stayed out on the track for a while on dry-weather tires be­fore mak­ing pit stops to­ward the end. Munoz took the lead when An­dretti en­tered pit row on lap 40, and he re­mained in front af­ter mak­ing a stop of his own two laps later.

An­dretti ended up fin­ish­ing sec­ond, fol­lowed by Simon Pa­ge­naud and pole-win­ner Will Power. This was the first of two Indy­Car races this week­end at Belle Isle. The sec­ond is Sun­day.

Satur­day’s race was ini­tially set up for 70 laps on the 2.35-mile street course that in­cludes 14 turns. There was sup­posed to be a 2-hour limit be­cause of the wet con­di­tions.

Munoz, in the No. 26 Honda, gave that man­u­fac­turer only its sec­ond victory of the sea­son in a se­ries dom­i­nated by Chevrolet of late.

“I think we mas­tered to­day’s con­di­tions, and that’s why he won the race,” said An­dretti, who drove the No. 27 Honda. “I think both An­dretti Au­tosport and Honda are up to the task, and we’re not giv­ing up.”

There had been a de­cent amount of rain ear­lier in the day at Belle Isle, but con­di­tions were a bit clearer when the Indy­Car race started, forc­ing driv­ers to de­cide whether to go with tires suited for wet or dry con­di­tions. An­dretti made an early pit stop, want­ing to go with dry­weather tires as the track dried out.

Af­ter both he and An­dretti had made their late pit stops, Munoz led. In fact, on lap 44 he was ahead by 26 sec­onds.

Munoz fi­nally put on the rain tires, and then it seemed that the cau­tion would undo much of his good work by re­duc­ing his lead, but when the race was called, he was sud­denly the win­ner.

Munoz fin­ished sec­ond in the In­di­anapo­lis 500 in 2013, but his main job at that point was driv­ing for Michael An­dretti’s team in Indy Lights, a de­vel­op­men­tal se­ries.

His victory Satur­day in­ter­rupted Team Penske’s dom­i­nance at this track. Both win­ners at this dou­ble­header last year — Power and He­lio Cas­tron­eves — are Penske Driv­ers. Penske also swept the top three in Fri­day’s qual­i­fy­ing.

On Satur­day, Pa­ge­naud and Power fin­ished 3-4 for Penske, while Cas­tron­eves was sixth. Juan Pablo Mon­toya, the Indy 500 win­ner, was 10th.

Although Mon­toya wasn’t much of a fac­tor Satur­day, he still leads the points stand­ings by 11 over Power. And Munoz’s victory made it two vic­to­ries in a row for Colom­bians in Indy­Car.

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