Carlos Munoz will return to IZOD IndyCar Series competition sooner than expected and at very short notice, after being called up to replace Ryan Briscoe in the #4 National Guard Panther Racing car, after Briscoe sustained a broken right wrist during Saturday's first race of the Honda Indy Toronto double-header.
“Carlos is a tremendous young driver with a great deal of talent,” said Panther managing partner John Barnes. “We're excited that he was available to drive the National Guard Chevrolet today on such short notice, and I'm sure this will be a great learning experience for him."
Munoz is currently competing full-time in the Firestone Indy Lights support series with Andretti Autosport, and is leading the 2013 championship after 8 of this year's 12 rounds having amassed three victories, two poles, six top-fives and eight top-tens so far in 2013. He came fourth in Saturday's Indy Lights race on the 1.755 mile, 11-turn temporary street course located in the Exhibition Place grounds in downtown Toronto.
Munoz made an impressive IndyCar début in May when he claimed a front row starting position for the Indianapolis 500, and went on to finish the race in second position to 2013 Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan, making him indisputably the race rookie of the year.
Today's race will be the second IndyCar career start for the 21-year-old from Bogotá in Colombia.
“I have to thank John Barnes, Panther Racing and the National Guard for this opportunity,” Munoz said. “I'm excited about making the most of this opportunity. Toronto is a challenging circuit, but just watching practice and qualifications the last few days it's obvious that the National Guard Chevy is fast and I hope to help bring the team a great end to the weekend today."
Munoz added, "It's unfortunate that it comes as a result of Ryan being injured," with John Barnes concurring: "We're obviously wishing Ryan a speedy recovery, but also very happy to make the most of this opportunity with Carlos today."
Briscoe sustained his injury on lap 65 of the Saturday race 1 in Toronto, sparked when Justin Wilson turned Charlie Kimball into a spin which in turn caught out Ryan Briscoe who was following close behind. The violent snapping action of the steering wheel caught the Australian by surprised and resulted in the fracture of his right wrist, which was confirmed after the race when Briscoe was transported to a nearby hospital for X-Rays.
“All of us at Panther Racing hate to see this happen to Ryan, but we've spoken with Dr Terry Trammel [IndyCar's orthopaedic consultant] and the quick recovery time for this type of injury is very encouraging,” said Barnes. "We all wish Ryan a very speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him back in the National Guard car very soon."
As well as ruling him out of today's race 2 in Toronto, it also puts Briscoe out of next weekend's American Le Mans Series race at Mosport, where he was due to drive again for Level 5 Motorsports in the LMP2 class after success last weekend at Lime Rock.