At Gateway last weekend, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports opted not to run Robert Wickens's #6 Luacs Oil entry, in part because the team simply did not have time to repair the damage the car suffered after Wickens's crash in Pocono, and part out of respect for their driver still in the hospital. But for the upcoming Grand Prix of Portland, SPM has opted to tap an Indycar veteran, forced to sit on the sidelines this year, Carlos Munoz.
Munoz during his appearance with Andretti Autosport at the 2018 Indianapolis 500. Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today Sports
Munoz, whose lone Indycar appearance this year came during an Andretti Autosport one-off entry at the Indianapolis 500, is a 4 year veteran of Indycar who found himself out of a ride when his contract was terminated last year by AJ Foyt Enterprises. Although Munoz is largely defined as an oval racer thanks, in part, to his 2 impressive 2nd place finishes at Indianapolis, he is no stranger to road and street courses, with his maiden Indycar victory coming at Detroit in 2015.
“Robert and his family have been in my prayers and I continue to pray for his recovery,” Munoz said. “I’m very grateful that Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have entrusted me to compete in the Lucas Oil Honda for the last two races of the season. I am looking forward to pushing hard for a great result for the team and for Robert.”
Chaves alongside side his 2017 Indianapolis 500 entry for Harding racing. Photo Credit: Harding Racing
Across the paddock, upstart Harding Racing has announced their driver Gabby Chaves will be back in the drivers seat for Portland, following a 4 race hiatus.
Chaves, who was confirmed as a full time driver for Harding in 2018, was forced to sit out Toronto, Mid-Ohio, and Gateway as Harding Racing examined its options for a potential 2nd car in 2019. American Conor Daly took over driving duties for Chaves in those three races, but was unable to race for the team at Gateway due to an existing agreement to run a NASCAR Xfinity car for the series's year jaunt to Watkins Glen.
“Portland’s a track that I’ve always really wanted to race on," Chaves told RACER Magazine Wednesday. "So getting the opportunity to come here and continue driving after Gateway gives me some strong feelings about where the program is going."
While Chaves may driving for Harding in Portland, next year is certainly a different matter as rumor continue to fly about a potential McLaren/Harding/Andretti team-up that would see 2 time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alsono drive for the homogenized team in 2019.
The Grand Prix of Portland is this Sunday, September 2nd. Green flag drops at 3:05 EDT with coverage on NBC Sports.