Munoz wins Indy Lights races, Karam clinches title
Sage Karam knew he didn't have to press for the victory in the Lefty's Kids Club 100 to secure the Firestone Indy Lights championship. So even a grid penalty didn't upset the plan developed for the 50-lap race.
|Sage Karam 2013 Firestone Indy Lights champion|
Patience aided the 18 year old from Nazareth, Pa., who clinched his first title with a third-place finish. It is the seventh series title for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Carlos Munoz, driving the No. 26 Dialy-Ser car for Andretti Autosport, won his fourth race of the season, holding off Gabby Chaves by 0.9966 of a second. Karam was 3.7 seconds behind.
Once Karam, who started at the rear of the field, moved to third early in race, he settled in to collect the points necessary to secure the title by 11 points over his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate. Karam entered the race with a 16-point advantage.
"I was crying on that last lap, just to know the dream is almost in reach and to be in the IndyCar Series racing with my heroes," Karam said. "This season started out OK and it went really bad in the middle. We bounced back somehow and we're champions now. The team just put together an awesome car week-in, week-out. I can't thank them enough.
"Sam Schmidt runs an awesome operation with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Mr. (Ric) Peterson. They’ve put together an awesome organization and I love being there. I’m pretty sure when were talking about next year Sam is going to be the first guy we talk to.”
It was the first season in Firestone Indy Lights for Karam, who placed one spot behind Chaves in the 2012 Star Mazda Championship. Chaves, 20, of Weston, Fla., earned a victory at Mid-Ohio in early August and placed in the top five in 11 of the 12 races. He closed the season with seven consecutive podium finishes.
"It's disappointing. We fight with our hearts every time and sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't. Today wasn't my way," Chaves said. "I did everything that I could. I knew I had to lead the most laps and tried to go around Carlos many times. I couldn't do it. Great job to the team, to Sam (Schmidt) and thank you to everyone who has helped me."
Munoz, who also won the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights race at Auto Club Speedway, moved to third in the final standings. Zach Veach, who earlier in the day re-signed with Andretti Autosport for 2014, finished fourth in the race.
|Munoz celebrates win but he was disappointed to miss out on the $1 million prize|
"There’s no better way to finish (the season) than to win," said Munoz, who also won the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights race at Auto Club Speedway. "I was a little bit sad because I couldn’t get the championship, which was my main goal this year (the 12th place at Houston eliminated him from contention).
"After that second place at the Indy 500, I think was the moment of my career. I have to thank my team, Andretti Autosport, all my mechanics. I’ve been together with them for two years. Hopefully it’s time to move up and I will try to do that. I have to thank everyone at Andretti Autosport."
Sage Karam 2013 Season Statistics:
3 Wins (Milwaukee, Iowa, Houston)
9 Podiums (St. Pete, Long Beach, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Iowa, Pocono, Baltimore, Houston, Auto Club Speedway)
2 Poles (Indianapolis, Milwaukee)
163 Laps Led
12 Races Running at the Finish
Sage is a high school senior at Nazareth High School in Pennsylvania. He is a member of the school’s wrestling team and played football in the Fall of 2012.
Sage is the third American Indy car champion in the last five years. He drives for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, the winningest team in Firestone Indy Lights. For most of his career, he was aligned with Andretti Autosport, owned by Michael Andretti, who like Karam hails from Nazareth, Pa.
||Juan Pablo Garcia