The Firestone Indy Lights championship chase took a dramatic turn on Saturday night following the Sukup 100. In fact, the series saw a new leader take charge.
Sage Karam’s win put him atop the standings, passing Carlos Munoz after his second win of the season.
Munoz won the pole earlier in the day, but he encountered some issues early and lost the lead to Jack Hawksworth on the first lap. Hawksworth led the first 40-plus laps before being passed by Karam on lap 48 in between turns three and four. Karam would hold that lead the rest of the way, beating out second place finisher Gabby Chaves by more than a quarter of a second.
The win for Karam is his fourth consecutive victory at Iowa Speedway in three different circuits. He is undefeated on the track. Despite his prior success over the track, Karam saw this as his best victory yet.
“I saw the opportunity, took it and that was it,” Karam said. “We had a good race. I will tell you what, that was one of the hardest victories I’ve had to work for. That definitely goes down as the best drive I’ve ever had.”
Chaves began to close in on Karam in the final few laps, cutting his lead by more than 50 percent in the final five laps, but Karam’s car had just enough to hold off Chaves in the No. 7 car. Chaves lamented the fact he was unable to pull off the come-from-behind victory on Karam. Chaves is winless on the season.
“I felt that we had the strongest car at the end of the race,” Chaves said. “It’s just a shame. It’s a bit hard running in dirty air. I had a good run on Sage (Karam) and he defended. Another points finish, another podium. Disappointed we didn’t get the win because we definitely had the car. We’ll just put our heads down and keep working forward.”
As for Hawksworth, he surrendered his second-place position to Chaves on lap 90 after getting a little loose in traffic. Although he couldn’t hold on for second, Hawksworth was still very encouraged with his race.
“We finished third after leading the race for a long time today,” Hawksworth said. “I think I shifted to sixth a little too early in the race because when I did Sage (Karam) was able to drive past me. After that, I got back into it and was able to start racing my teammate Gabby (Chaves) hard. It’s great to have a solid finish on an oval because I’ve been working toward that for several races now.”