DETROIT — official series release — Chris Jones/IndyCar photo —
Carlos Munoz earned his first career Verizon IndyCar Series victory on Saturday as severe weather prompted a red flag with 47 of 70 scheduled laps complete in Race 1 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park.
Munoz, 23, joins Carlos Huertas and Josef Newgarden as Verizon IndyCar Series race winners born in the 1990s, and he joins Newgarden as a first-time winner this season. There have been six different winners in the seven races, and for the second consecutive race the winner is a native of Colombia. Juan Pablo Montoya won the 99th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 24.
Munoz, who started 20th in the AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda, picked up the lead on Lap 40 when Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti pitted for fuel and Firestone rain tires in anticipation of rain returning to the area. Munoz remained on track for an additional two laps, building a 26-second lead on Andretti, before also pitting for rain tires.
“I wanted to win 100 percent and with all the laps,” said Munoz, who joined Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud as drivers who claimed their first Indy car victory at Belle Isle. “Racing is racing, which is what happened with the weather. It was a great call with the strategy and a great result for the team with a 1-2 (finish). I had the fuel to go laps longer. I wanted to get my first win by doing all the laps, but I’m really happy for my team.”
Andretti led a field-high 23 laps in the No. 27 Merchant First/Snapple Honda and secured his first top-three finish since the Indianapolis 500 last May.
“(Strategy) started very early in the race. We were running eighth and we had a bunch of strong guys in the front so it seemed like a no-brainer (to pit for Firestone primary tires on Lap 9) as long as I could keep it off the fence, which we were able to do,” Andretti said. “At the end I really didn’t want to come in, but we needed to get some fuel, and I knew whoever stayed out would beat me. It was good for an Andretti Autosport 1-2.”
It was the second victory of the season for Honda and its first 1-2 finish of the year.
Added team owner Michael Andretti, race strategist for the No. 27 entry: “In races like this, anything can happen and I felt very confident in our guys that they would get the job done.”
Pagenaud picked up his first podium finish in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet. Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and pole sitter Will Power placed fourth and Scott Dixon was fifth.
“Today was all about team effort and I can’t thank the No. 22 crew enough for a good strategy and a great call at any time,” Pagenaud said. “It was very dicey. We never knew when the rain was going to come. We could only look at the radar, but on the racetrack it wasn’t raining when they called me in so we had a few communication exchanges. We stayed out a bit longer and then made the call at the perfect time to jump to third and then get a first podium with Team Penske. I’m over the moon right now.”
Power is 11 points behind Team Penske teammate Montoya, who placed 10th, heading into the second scheduled 70-lap race on Belle Isle. Qualifications are at 11:25 a.m. (ET) May 31, with the race at 3:30 p.m.
RESULTS: Verizon IndyCar Series; Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Race One; Belle Isle Park; May 30, 2015
1. (20) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 47, Running
2. (9) Marco Andretti, Honda, 47, Running
3. (5) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 47, Running
4. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 47, Running
5. (7) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 47, Running
6. (2) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 47, Running
7. (14) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 47, Running
8. (18) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 47, Running
9. (19) Luca Filippi, Chevrolet, 47, Contact
10. (3) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 46, Running
11. (4) Takuma Sato, Honda, 46, Running
12. (10) James Jakes, Honda, 46, Running
13. (16) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 46, Running
14. (6) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 46, Running
15. (8) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 46, Running
16. (12) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 46, Running
17. (11) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 46, Running
18. (23) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 46, Running
19. (21) Conor Daly, Honda, 46, Running
20. (15) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 33, Running
21. (22) Rodolfo Gonzalez, Honda, 25, Mechanical
22. (17) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 13, Contact
23. (13) Graham Rahal, Honda, 5, Contact
CREDIT: IndyCar Communications