Sage Karam on Star Mazda Pole at Iowa After setting the fast time in practice yesterday, Nazareth, PA native Sage Karam waited patiently for a light rain shower to pass and the jet blower to dry the track before taking his #88 Andretti Autosport / Comfort Revolution Mazda out to win the PEAK Performance Pole Award for tonight's Iowa Speedway Foundation Star Mazda 100. His lap of 21.907 (146.912 mph) marks his third straight pole at this track - 2010 in USF200 and 2011 in Star Mazda. If he wins the race this evening, he will have scored a 'hat trick' in the most complete sense of the word.
Staring on the outside of the front row will be the current Star Mazda championship points leader, English racer Jack Hawksworth in the #82 Team Pelfrey / TORGOEN Swiss Watches / EXA Networks Mazda. His lap time of 21.931 (146.751 mph) is, like Karam's, under the existing Star Mazda lap record at Iowa Speedway, a 21.933 set in 2010 by Conor Daly.
Completing the all-star top-3 is Finnish racer Petri Suvanto, the 2011 USF2000 champion who is racing in Star Mazda this season with scholarship funding from the Mazda Road to Indy. He turned a lap of 21.982 (146.411 mph) in the #81 Team Pelfrey / Mazda Road to Indy Mazda - part of a 13-car lead pack that all qualified within 8/10ths of a second of each other.
"I just love this track and look forward to coming here every year," says Karam, a 17 year-old high school student who is a top-ranked wrestler when not behind the wheel of his race car. "The whole trick is to be perfectly smooth, and that's one of the things that the Andretti team teaches; my steering traces look like perfect curves, and when a tenth of a second can make all the difference, that's where you find the time. Anything can happen in an oval track race, but I'm feeling good about tonight... if the weather holds."
This weekend's Round 6 of the 2012 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is the second of two ovals on a 2012 schedule that includes a well-rounded menu of ovals, street circuits and natural-terrain road courses. Most are double-headers with two races per weekend, and most are with IndyCar. Following these two ovals in a row is a string of three Canadian races in a row, beginning with the Indy Toronto, followed by Indy Edmonton and then by the legendary GP3R Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, where Star Mazda will share the stage with Indy Lights.
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