RUOFF AT INDY: Mark Music looks back at seventh-place finish, eyes efforts to “do more” with Andretti Autosport in ’19
SPEEDWAY — It was nearly a record-breaking day in terms of heat at Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, but Ruoff Home Mortgage President/CEO Mark Music had bigger things to focus on than the 90-plus degree temperatures.
Music spent the race atop the pit stand of Carlos Muñoz, the driver at the wheel of the Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda with Andretti Autosport. Team owner Michael Andretti, who directed Muñoz’s month of May as his strategist, also was on the pit stand throughout the event.
“It was a lot of fun,” Music said. “The strategy didn’t fall our way. We committed ourselves early on to playing the fuel mileage game. With the way the race was and cars running single file and spaced apart, we thought there might be a low number of yellows.”
Muñoz started the race 21st and did not make up much ground through the first stint. With no yellow flags through the first 47 laps and passing at a premium, the team elected to roll the dice and go to a six-stop pit strategy. Unfortunately, a total of seven cautions, including four over the final 61 laps, disrupted the plan.
Muñoz eventually finished seventh, his fifth Indy 500 top 10 in six starts. He was the top-placing driver to make more than five pit stops.
“I think what hurt me was the yellows towards the end,” Muñoz said. “We had a really good strategy going on … and we were in a good place. I think I chickened out a little bit on the restarts because I wasn’t up to speed. That hurt me a little bit on the restarts. I was a little bit cautious, so some people overtook me but at the end of the day I think I gained back all the positions on track.”
While the last few Indy 500s showcased plenty of passing at the front of the pack and within the field, new car specs gave this year’s race a different feel.
“It was kind of an odd race with the new aero kit,” Music said. “We were pleased with seventh for sure. If that last yellow doesn’t come out (on lap 189 for Tony Kanaan), some other drivers would have had to stop (for fuel).
“We think we squeezed about all we could out of it.”
While the month at Indianapolis did not end with a Borg-Warner Trophy, there was much to be pleased about for Ruoff Home Mortgage and their continued involvement with Andretti Autosport.
“Being able to go in early with everything in order and being able to leverage (the sponsorship) to the fullest extent was terrific,” Music said. “We fully expect to try and reach a deal next year to do more (with Andretti Autosport).”
Ruoff is not yet done this season with primary sponsorship. This weekend, Ruoff Home Mortgage will adorn the livery of the car of Alexander Rossi for the twin Detroit Grand Prix races.
“We are looking forward to being on Rossi’s car,” Music said. “He was maybe the driver of the day (in the Indianapolis 500) for how many cars he passed.”
Rossi finished fourth at Indy after starting 32nd and enters Detroit weekend second in the IndyCar Series points championship race.