RUOFF AT INDY: Can Carlos Muñoz win the Indianapolis 500 from 21st starting spot?
Can Carlos Muñoz win Sunday’s Indianapolis 500? Sure.
Is it likely? Well, history says otherwise.
Muñoz’s starting position of 21st has produced just one other Indy 500 winner, the co-driving team of Lora Lawrence Corum and Joe Boyer way back in 1924.
In addition, only two drivers in the last 82 years have won the race starting 20th or worse — Al Unser Sr. from 20th in 1987 and Johnny Rutherford from 25th in 1974.
Despite the odds, Muñoz, driving the Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda for Andretti Autosport, believes he can get to the front over the course of 500 miles if things go right.
“There have been some guys lately who have won the race coming from the back, maybe not starting there but something happened to put them back there,” Muñoz said. “I think if you have a good car, clean pit stops and a little luck you can get to the front.”
Muñoz expected to start a little higher after he qualified 15th during last Saturday’s Bump Day. While some drivers made second runs during the day in an attempt to make the Fast Nine and compete for the pole, Muñoz and his team elected to not go back out.
“We were missing about two miles per hour to be in the Fast Nine,” Muñoz said. “It was better to save some tires.”
While Muñoz felt he had the same amount of speed for last Sunday’s final qualifying day, track conditions saw him go a tad slower than the day before, running a four-lap average of 226.048.
The two-time Indy 500 runner-up was close to being sponsored by Ruoff Home Mortgage for his run at the Borg-Warner Trophy in 2016, so the relationship with President/CEO Mark Music and the company is not entirely new. Despite the start midway back in the field, Muñoz believes he has a chance at surprising some people come Sunday.
“This year, it seems much more difficult to overtake because of the new aero kits, but you never know,” Muñoz said. “People haven’t done 30-lap stints yet. We have done it and it seemed pretty good, so we will see.”