Carlos Munoz scored his first Firestone Indy Lights Series victory after capturing his first pole earlier Saturday in Edmonton. Like in qualifying, changing track conditions altered the complexion of the event, and in this instance, led to rare in-race pit stops.
Munoz and AFS/Andretti Autosport teammate Sebastian Saavedra were leaders from the outset and although they weren't the first to pit, they emerged as the eventual front-runners once the cycle of stops was complete.
On lap 17 of 40, Munoz and Saavedra passed Jorge Goncalvez, who had gambled on more rain and stayed out longer on rain tires losing anywhere from eight to 10 seconds per lap, for the lead and second positions. They wouldn't relinquish the spots the rest of the day.
“It's awesome, there are no words to describe it,” Munoz said. “We were fast everywhere. It was a perfect weekend. It was only the second pit stop in my life! The guys did a great job really fast. Sebastian was a bit quicker in the pits, but I knew I was quicker than him on track.”
Saavedra had the built-in advantage of pit stop experience in IndyCar races but the slightly quicker Lights pit stop was no match for Munoz's speed on track. The Colombian rookie ran anywhere from one to 1.5 seconds quicker than Saavedra per lap, and won by more than eight seconds.
Points leader Esteban Guerrieri of Sam Schmidt Motorsports finished third, with Oliver Webb fourth and second-starting Peter Dempsey fifth.
Dempsey was no doubt the busiest and most active driver in the field, the Irishman spinning three times but without hitting the wall, and making several moves throughout the race on Gustavo Yacaman, Tristan Vautier and others.
Wet but drying conditions raised the prospect of someone rolling the dice on when to switch from wets to slicks, but the only driver to try anything different was Goncalvez, whose decision to stay out 20 laps longer than the rest of the field left him finishing two laps down on the leaders.
Guerrieri leads Saavedra by 27 points, Vautier by 28, as the series heads to the third and final Canadian round of the season at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec in two weeks.