Muñoz wins Indy Lights race, Karam claims title at Auto Club Speedway

Indy Lights, IndyCar News/Releases — By on October 21, 2013 8:58 am
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[Source: Firestone Indy Lights press release]

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Fontana, Calif., October 19, 2013 - 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.

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 .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.”

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.

LEFTY’S KIDS CLUB 100 POST-RACE NOTES:

  • This is Carlos Munoz’ fourth win of the season and the sixth win of his Firestone Indy Lights career. This is Munoz’ second win at Auto Club Speedway. He won here in 2012.
  • Gabby Chaves finished second, his 10th podium finish of the season.
  • Sage Karam finished third, his ninth podium finish of the season and to claim the Firestone Indy Lights championship by 11 points over Gabby Chaves.
  • Karam is the fourth straight driver from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to win the Firestone Indy Lights championship and the seventh driver to win the title since 2004.
  • Drivers that have won the title for SPM include: Tristan Vautier (2012), Josef Newgarden (2011), J.K. Vernay (2010), Alex Lloyd (2007), Jay Howard (2006), and Thiago Medeiros (2004).

QUOTEBOARD:

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Dialy-Ser/Andretti Autosport, winner Lefty’s Kids Club 100): “There’s no better way to finish (the season) than to win. I was a little bit sad because I couldn’t get the championship, which was my main goal this year. After that second place at the Indy 500, I think was the moment of my career. I’m really happy. I still have 500 miles to go (tonight). This 100 miles was really long; I can’t imagine 500 miles in an IndyCar. It’s great. 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.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports c/w Curb-Agajanian): “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. I did everything that I could. I knew I had to lead the most laps and tried to go around Carlos (Munoz) many times. I couldn’t do it. Great job to the team, to Sam (Schmidt) and everyone to everyone who has helped me. My engineer Chris (Finch) all the mechanics and the whole crew. Congrats to them for the championship and we’ll see what comes next. Definitely keep pushing hard because it’s not over. We lost this championship, but there’s still plenty to come.”

SAGE KARAM (No. 8 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports c/w Curb-Agajanian, 2013 Firestone Indy Lights champion): “I can’t explain it. 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. 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. Michael Fux, he’s like another dad to me and has been on-board with me forever now. The Comfort Revolution car is always fast, every week. I don’t know what else to say; I’m just so excited. Sam Schmidt runs an awesome operation with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Mr. Peterson. They’ve put together an awesome organization and I love being there. I’m pretty sure when we talking about next year, Sam is going to be the first guy we talk to.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 12 RePlay XD/Andretti Autosport): “We got shuffled back at the start and we were working our way back up. We got hit by (Gabby) Chaves so the rest of the run we had a bit of a bent wheel, so that wasn’t helping us. Where we finished was good. We could have had a better race car, but I think we did a really good job this weekend. I’m really proud of the RePlay XD guys. We’ll come back next year ever stronger.”

KYLE O’GARA (No. 67 Hartman Oil/RW/SFH Racing Devt): “Today was a big learning day for us. We went out and wanted to make laps and being there at the end was the big goal. We had a lot of understeer in Turns 1 and 2 we were skating a lot in 3 and 4. We put a bit of understeer in for 1 and 2 to compensate for 3 and 4. It’s good to learn though, and I’m looking forward to hopefully running more races next year and we’ll go from here.”

JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports c/w Curb-Agajanian): “It was a tough day today. We tried our best but couldn’t quite get there. Glad to have this season over and I just want to say thanks to everyone who’s helped along the way.”

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