DETROIT — Carlos Munoz earned his first Verizon IndyCar Series victory while on pit lane at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park.
Severe weather prompted a red flag with 47 of 70 scheduled laps of Race 1 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn street course completed, and the race was called after a 20-minute wait.
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. The 23 entries started the race on rain tires. Munoz remained out 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 Merhcant 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 initial 1-2.
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 22 crew enough for a good strategy and a great call at any time,” Pagenaud said. “It was very dicey. 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 May 31 (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC).
The Verizon P1 Award for the pole position will be awarded to the best overall lap time in the two qualifying sessions divided into two groups of 12 minutes each of track time. The remainder of the cars in the same group as the Verizon P1 Award winner will be ranked in the odd-numbered race starting positions based on fastest lap times. Even-numbered starting positions will be determined from the other group based on fastest lap times.
Click it: Race 2 qualifying groups
Watch it at 11:25 a.m. (ET) with real-time Timing & Scoring and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcast on www.RaceControl.indycar.com.