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2014 rookie class impresses at Long Beach

An impressive showing for the four Verizon IndyCar Series rookies at Long Beach saw three in the top ten and Jack Hawksworth missing out after being caught up in an accident.
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."


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Related Pictures

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Carlos Huertas waits on pitlane prior to the start (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Jack Hawksworth enters the hairpin during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Huertas (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
The crew of Mikhail Aleshin go to work in the pits (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mikhail Aleshin waits on pitlane prior to practice at Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power and Carlos Munoz flank winner Mike Conway during their victory lap (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz waits on pit lane in Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz with a champagne surprise (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates with his team after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates with his team owner Roger Penske after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates with his wife Liz after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Saturday, August 30, 2014 during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is the third consecutive win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Team Chevy sweeps the podium as Tony Kanaan (center), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Saturday, August 30, 2014, during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Teammate Scott Dixon (left), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, finishes second, and Ed Carpenter, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet V6, finishes third. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Gregg EllmanLAT for Chevy Racing)

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