National Guard Panther Racing Rookie Driver Keeps it Clean in First Non-Oval IndyCar Series Start

TORONTO, Canada - (July 14, 2013) – It was an impressive street course debut for IndyCar Series rookie Carlos Munoz, who drove from a last-place starting position to finish 17th in Panther Racing’s No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet Sunday in the Honda Indy Toronto. Munoz made his debut today with the team as a replacement for Ryan Briscoe, who suffered a broken wrist in Saturday’s race and was not medically cleared to participate in today’s race.

"It was a long race and a hard race for me,” Munoz admitted. “It was basically my first time in an IndyCar on a street course and I didn’t know what to expect to be in a race here with so many cars out there. We continued to drop lap times and I got more and more comfortable with each lap, and by the end we put together quite a good lap – which are all positive things. It’s good work from the National Guard crew and my goal was to finish, and I finished, and I’m very happy to have this opportunity today.”

Munoz was offered the ride late Saturday after the team learned the extent of Briscoe’s injury, and only had Sunday’s 30-minute warm-up practice to acclimate himself to an IndyCar Series car. The 21-year-old had never raced, or even tested, in an IndyCar on a road or street course previously. He earned Rookie of the Year honors for his second-place finish in the 97th Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport, which was his only other career IndyCar Series start. The Firestone Indy Light championship leader’s only other experience in an IndyCar was a test day at Texas Motor Speedway.

Munoz started in the 24th position and executed the series’ first standing start well, moving past Ed Carpenter (who stalled) and nearly passed Mike Conway as cars funneled through the first turn. The team had made clear to Munoz to take it easy at the start of the event, but the Columbian’s lap times steadily improved as the race progressed, to the point where by the middle of the race he was contending with all the cars he was racing against. The National Guard crew executed its two-stop strategy and Munoz reached as high as ninth place on the grid while other drivers were cycling through their pit stops.

Ryan Briscoe Medical Update:
Briscoe flew to Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon and is scheduled to undergo surgery on his wrist on Monday afternoon. He attended the morning warm-up session to help Munoz get acclimated to the team and the track. His expected recovery time following surgery is 2-3 weeks, which puts into question Briscoe’s participation in the next IndyCar Series event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Race Broadcast Info:
The IndyCar Series will have two weekends off before traveling to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Honda Indy 200, which will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network on August 4th at 3:00 pm (ET), with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM/Sirius Channel 211. Practice, qualifying and race coverage is also available on the IndyCar Mobile app from Verizon. -