RUOFF AT INDY: Carlos Muñoz to start 21st in Indianapolis 500
News-Sentinel.com will be bringing week-long coverage of Carlos Munoz and Ruoff Home Mortgage at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, concluding with Sunday’s 102nd Indianapolis 500.
INDIANAPOLIS — The starting position isn’t ideal, but it could have been worse for Carlos Muñoz and Ruoff Home Mortgage.
On a weekend that saw James Hinchcliffe, one of IndyCar’s most popular drivers, not make the Indianapolis 500 field, Muñoz found the silver lining in qualifying 21st for next Sunday’s race.
“I’m a little disappointed in our qualifying,” said Muñoz, who is sponsored by Fort Wayne-based Ruoff Home Mortgage. “My last run wasn’t what I expected — this morning we were much quicker, and I don’t really know what happened.”
On Saturday, Muñoz missed out on advancing into the Fast Nine Shootout that crowned the pole position, finishing 15th with a four-lap speed of 226.600. After a Sunday morning practice that saw him show some additional speed, his final qualifying run at 226.048 was disappointing.
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Muñoz was part of a topsy-turvy run for Andretti Autosport drivers on Sunday. While Marco Andretti showed pace to qualify 12th, Alexander Rossi’s brush with the wall during his qualifying run has the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner starting Sunday’s race from the middle of the last row.
After winning last year’s race with Takuma Sato starting from the fourth position, Ruoff Home Mortgage’s driver will have much more work to do in order to get up front. But Muñoz is confident.
“I’m really proud of my Ruoff Home Mortgage guys,” Muñoz said. “I think the most important thing is to have a good car for the race and now we’ll switch to making our race car the best — that’s what really matters.”
Muñoz and 31 other drivers will be chasing Ed Carpenter, who landed his third Indy 500 pole on Sunday with an average speed of 229.618. Carpenter hit 230 on his initial lap before dropping into the 229s.
“I don’t know I was expecting to see that either, but the 20 car had a lot of speed in it,” said Carpenter about his first lap. “We were able to put down four pretty consistent laps.”
Carpenter won back-to-back poles in 2013 and 2014, but race day those two years brought mixed results. The Indianapolis native finished 10th in 2013 and 27th in 2014.
“I don’t want to just be the guy who qualifies well here,” Carpenter said. “We are now truly focused on the race.”