Long Beach: race report
Long Beach: full results
Although officially listed a rookie for the 2014 season, Andretti Autosport's Carlos Munoz had already impressed in two outings last season, the first of which saw him qualify and finish in second place in the Indianapolis 500.
Now the 22-year-old from Colombia has another podium in the books after finishing in third place at Long Beach, after holding off an assertive campaign from his compatriot and motor racing idol Juan Pablo Montoya who came across the line just behind in fourth place.
"I'm really happy, it was a really nice race," he said, adding that he's spent the final laps trying hard to get the jump on Will Power for second. "I just pushed pretty hard on the last two laps to try to overtake Will, but it was really difficult even though I had some push to pass.
"But I'm happy, second podium in the IndyCar, and first podium this year, so I'm going to keep pushing," he said.
Munoz revealed that the car had been a handful at the start, and admitted that the big multi-car wreck on lap 54 had been a big factor in his getting onto the podium.
"It's not the way I'd like to earn my third place with so many accidents, but this is racing," he shrugged. "Anything can happen, especially on this track - especially in IndyCar. Anything can happen."
Also having a strong run at Long Beach was fellow rookie Mikhail Aleshin, the 26-year-old Russian picked up from Formula Renault 3.5 at short notice just before the start of the season to fill the second Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports seat in 2014 alongside Simon Pagenaud.
"We had a really good day in Long Beach despite everything that happened in a very eventful race," said Aleshin. "I had a good start in the race and gained two positions. We spent a lot of time fighting with the other drivers for every position we could get.
"Unfortunately our strategy got thrown off when I pitted only two laps before the first caution came out," he said. "[Then] on the second restart I broke my front wing because someone spun in front of me and there was nowhere to go.
"I was able to pass several drivers and the big shunt in turn 4 moved us up as well," he continued. "On the last restart my teammate Simon got me: it was actually a really good move and showed me that I still have a lot to learn on the rolling restarts."