O’Reilly Auto Parts 500


By John Sturbin

FORT WORTH, Texas (June 10, 2016) – Carlos Munoz checked off another box in his emerging open-wheel career Friday afternoon, earning his first career Verizon IndyCar Series P1 Award for Saturday’s Firestone 600 during Star-Telegram Qualifying Day.

Munoz toured Texas Motor Speedway’s high-banked, 1.5-mile speedway in a combined 48.2460-seconds at 217.137 mph to finish on-pole for the first time in 46 career starts.

“Honestly, I didn't expect to be on-pole,” said Munoz, driver of the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda. “I didn't expect to be 217. After practice, I really wasn't happy with the car. Conditions were really tough. We make some changes. When I saw my first lap on my dash (24.1148-seconds), I said, ”˜Oh, man, that was a good lap.’ My second lap (24.1312-seconds) was really good, as well. So I was the fifth car out, it took a little bit suffering with my teammates and everything.

“I’m really impressed with my speed. Looking for my teammates and other Hondas, impressed with my speed. It's a long race. Really nice to have my first pole in my career. Really happy with it.”

Qualifying consisted of two laps with times and speeds officially calculated by INDYCAR using a traveling distance of 1.455-miles, which corresponds with data registered by on-board telemetry. The ambient temperature at 3:15 p.m. was 91 degrees, with the track temp a blistering 132 degrees, according to Firestone racing engineers.

Munoz, a 24-year-old native of Colombia, now has qualified in the top-10 in all three of his starts at “The Great American Speedway!” The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year, Munoz made his first start in the 2013 Indianapolis 500, qualifying and finished second to Tony Kanaan. Munoz won his first series race on the Belle Isle Park street course in Detroit last year.

Scott Dixon, the defending event champion, joined Munoz in the two-car front row after lapping at 216.901 mph in his No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

“Yeah, it's nice to start up-front,” said Dixon, the four-time/reigning series champion. “I don't think it's really a big deal where you qualify, as long as you're sort of half field up towards the front. But always it's great to be towards the pointy end of the field. Congratulations to Andretti and Munoz for pulling off the pole.

“Carlos has done a tremendous job at the speedways. He has a very good record. There's no doubt that he can wheel a car. But unfortunately with motor racing, some days it's your day and others it's not. If he keeps fighting at the right end of the field, he's going to come through.

“Yeah, the Speedway, that's a tough one. I think he's finished second a few times.”

Munoz finished second to rookie teammate Alexander Rossi in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the latter stretched his fuel mileage into an upset victory on May 29. Munoz finished 4.4975-seconds behind Rossi.

“Oh, yeah, got over the next day for sure,” Munoz said. “I knew I had Detroit (last weekend’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit). It’s like my first Indy 500. People say I could have won it if not for the yellow. But I say that didn't happen, nothing would change. I pass over that.

“Like I say, I have many opportunities. Hopefully next year I have another opportunity. If would be my last 500 of my life, I would regret it for my whole life for sure. But I think it is not my last 500, I think I have many more to come. Hopefully, more opportunities.”

Helio Castroneves of Team Penske qualified third at 216.740 mph in the No. 3 AAA Insurance Chevrolet. Takuma Sato qualified fourth at 216.740 mph in the No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda fielded by the native Texan and four-time Indy 500 champion.

 Rossi qualified ninth at 216.262 mph in his No. 98 Castrol EDGE Honda for what will be his third oval-track race. "The car was so good _ it’s really a shame to give away good positions because you don’t have a radio,” said Rossi, who is making his TMS debut. “We weren’t able to communicate with the timing stand to adjust the settings on the Castrol EDGE car, so missed out on where we feel we should be on the grid. But I’m looking forward to the race and working on moving up through the field."

The 248-lap/372-mile race will be run Saturday at 7:45 p.m. CT and will be televised by NBC Sports Network.

Tickets for the Firestone 600 are available by calling the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or www.texasmotorspeedway.com


About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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