• Third podium finish of 2014 for Colombian, leads rookie points standings
• Aleshin runs seventh in another strong rookie performance
• Pagenaud moves to third in championship with sixth-place finish
In a Verizon IndyCar Series season marked by an impressive Honda-powered rookie contingent, Carlos Munoz continues to shine brightest of all, finishing third Sunday at Pocono Raceway in the Pocono INDYCAR 500, the second round of the 2014 “triple crown” of 500-mile races.
Munoz ran in the lead pack throughout the 200-lap contest at the unique, 2.5-mile Pocono “triangle”, scoring his third top-three finish of the season with his Andretti Autosport Honda to move to sixth in the Drivers’ Championship and take a 77-point lead in the Rookie of the Year standings. Fellow Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya won, in an event slowed by only a single caution flag, making it the fastest 500-mile race in IndyCar Series history.
All four Honda-powered 2014 rookies – Munoz; Mikhail Aleshin; Houston Saturday race winner Carlos Huertas and Jack Hawksworth – have finished on the podium at least once this season.
Simon Pagenaud remained in strong championship contention with a sixth-place finish in his Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda. Pagenaud, winner of last Sunday’s race in Houston, moves to third in the Drivers’ Championship, 42 points out of the lead with seven races remaining. Teammate Aleshin finished seventh as his strong rookie season continues.
Josef Newgarden finished eighth after leading seven laps late in the race before having to make a late pit stop for a final splash of fuel, while Marco Andretti charged back to finish ninth at his “home” event after receiving an early-race penalty for speeding in pit lane.
Bob Pritchard, from Payson, Arizona, led the field prior to today’s race start in the two-seat Honda Indy car driven by racing legend Mario Andretti.
The Verizon IndyCar Series run of consecutive races continues next weekend with the first short-oval event of the 2014 season, the July 12 Iowa Corn Indy 300, at Iowa Speedway in Newton.
Carlos Munoz (#34 Andretti Autosport Honda) Started 3rd, finished 3rd, his third podium finish of 2014, leads rookie point standings: “We were so close. I think we had a car capable of winning today, I was really fast on my own. I think third place is a great result for the championship, especially with the double points [for a 500-mile race]. I’m really happy with a podium. It was a long race, and I think that this time, I raced like a veteran. My crew did such a great job ... great pit stops ... and I’m happy.”
Tom Reichenbach (HPD Senior Manager and Chief Engineer, Technical Division) on today’s race: “We’re very happy to see another strong performance from Carlos [Munoz]. He continues to impress us with both his talent and work ethic. It also was encouraging to see Josef Newgarden make his late-race charge to the front. The team’s aggressive pit strategy almost paid off today, and Josef has been driving well all season. Finally, congratulations to Simon Pagenaud for another quick and consistent oval-track run, as he gains one more spot in the championship. Now we’ll head to Iowa, and the challenges presented by the first short-oval race of the season.”