With tonight’s Sukup 100 victory, Sage Karam has now won four years in a row on the .875-mile Iowa Speedway oval (USF2000 in 2010 and Star Mazda in 2011-12).
Earlier in the day, Sage’s father, Jody, seemed reserved and maybe even concerned when asked about how the day was going. While friendly in his response, he was quick to rush off and deliver a message to Sage who was debriefing with his engineer.
“We were actually arguing at the time,” Karam said, when asked about the content of that message. “We were having a bad day early and I was frustrated. During the next session, I was actually sitting in the car thinking about how to apologize to my dad.”
It’s safe to say, all hard feelings or tension were quickly erased with tonight’s win. Karam now leads the championship standings by nine points ahead of Carlos Munoz.
“We’re all good now,” Karam added with a smile. “He was giving me hugs after the race!”
Karam, who also won last week on the Milwaukee Mile, started tonight’s race fifth but rocketed into second place on the opening lap after the first start was waved off. Karam’s teammate Jack Hawksworth took the early lead and on Lap 26, Gabby Chaves, another Schmidt-Peterson driver, advanced to third bumping pole sitter Munoz back to fourth.
From that point on it was all Schmidt-Peterson. It wasn’t until Lap 46 that Karam made his first bid for the lead, diving to the inside of Hawksworth in turn one. Two laps later, on Lap 48, he made the move stick.
The top-three had built a pretty big gap at this point and began dealing with lap traffic just past halfway.
“I caught Peter [Dempsey] around Lap 70 and he really didn’t want to go a lap down, so I just gave myself a gap and focused on keeping Jack and Gabby behind me.”
On Lap 90, Hawksworth and Chaves split a lap car driven by Zach Veach while exiting Turn 3. The evasive action allowed Chaves to move into second and close the gap on Karam. Just after Lap 100 of the 115-lap event, Karam was forced out of the throttle while lapping Munoz. Chaves nearly found himself in the lead, but Karam managed to maintain the advantage.
“I didn’t think I was going to be able to hold Gabby off in the closing laps,” Karam said. “Fortunately, Munoz went low again and took some momentum away from Gabby.”
When the checkered flag waved, Karam led his teammates across the stripe, edging Chaves by 0.2660 seconds with Hawksworth close behind in third. Dempsey finished fourth after starting the race eighth. Jorge Goncalvez rounded out the top five.
The Indy Lights drivers return to action on July 6 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.