INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 23, 2013) - Sage Karam earned the Sunoco Pole Award for the Firestone Freedom 100 in his first Firestone Indy Lights oval race. Karam, an 18-year-old from Nazareth, Pa., posted a two-lap average speed of 189.243 mph (1 minute, 35.1160 seconds cumulative time) May 23 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Karam, driving the No. 8 Comfort Revolutions car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian, is in his first season in the series after placing third in the Pro Mazda Championship in 2012. He has a pair of podium finishes in the three races on road/street circuits. It's the fifth earned pole and sixth pole start for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in the Firestone Freedom 100.
Series points leader Carlos Munoz, who recorded a two-lap average of 189.276 mph, will start second in the No. 26 Dialy-Ser Andretti Autosport car. He was .0703 of a second off Karam's cumulative time over the five miles. Munoz also will start second in his first Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 26.
Peter Dempsey (189.359) and Gabby Chaves (187.770) will share Row 2 in the Firestone Freedom 100. St. Petersburg race winner Jack Hawksworth (187.410) and Kyle O'Gara (187.393), making his Firestone Indy Lights debut, will be on Row 3.
FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100 POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:
KYLE O'GARA (No. 67 SFHRD/RW/SPM - Moynahan Williams): "We were still a little bit conservative, being my first qualifying attempt ever in an Indy Lights car. We definitely had some room to go if we could have. If we would have had a little more practice in this morning, it might have changed that. But, I am very thankful for being here. I am looking forward to tomorrow. We had a very good race car this morning and at the test. We're looking forward to it."
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson c/w Curb-Agajanian): "It was great to get out on the track because we've been pits all day with the rain. There was a lot of waiting around, time spent going over things for qualifying. We had a good run, qualified fifth. The car was pretty decent, and we're pretty happy with it. The qualifying round doesn't mean too much, so we can't read too much into it. It's going to be about what happens tomorrow. I was very happy with the race car the last time we ran it, so I think we're in for a good race."
GABBY CHAVES (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson c/w Curb-Agajanian): "I think it was a good qualifying effort. We were flat out from the moment we left the pits, and after that, it's just being as smooth as you can, going through the gears correctly and hoping you get a gust of wind at the right moment to pick up a few miles an hour. I think we had a good qualifying, and we have a strong car for the race."
PETER DEMPSEY (No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing): "I wasn't really happy with the first lap, but the second lap was really solid. The Belardi Auto Racing guys put amount of effort into this car over the past month. The wind has definitely picked up since we rolled onto pit lane for qualifying. I was just trying to pick the best gear selection that I could and play around with the tools that I had in the car. Hopefully, I got it right. Definitely, my second lap, I nailed it."
JUAN PABLO GARCIA (No. 2 TMR-International-Euclid Chemical): "Unfortunately we were quite a bit slower than this morning in practice. I'm not sure what changed with the car. The car didn't feel bad; it felt good. Qualifying well is an important piece but not the most important thing. We have a good car that is fast and capable of winning tomorrow. We will go back to the garage and go over everything in the car to ensure we have a winning result tomorrow."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Dialy-Ser/Andretti Autosport): "It was pretty good. It was totally different as I was used to IndyCar (and) to go back to Indy Lights. They have a great car, and we will focus on the race tomorrow." (How does it feel to have the potential to win both the Indy 500 and the Firestone Freedom 100 in the same year?) "It would be great. Here in Indy Lights, the qualifying is not as important as the tow in the race. Here (at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) the race is really amusing. We had so much fun last year in that race because we were overtaking all the time. But I am going one by one. I am focusing first with Indy Lights - then I will focus on the Indy 500."
CHASE AUSTIN (No. 28 Starting Grid): "We had a better car than that in practice. I'm not quite sure what happened. We have to go back and look at the telemetry. But we are looking forward to the race tomorrow. We got a good race car. Like I said, I just don't know what happened. I am excited for the race tomorrow. I can't wait for it. We have a good car, and we got a chance of winning."
ZACH VEACH (No. 12 K12/Andretti Autosport): "I don't think that is what we had in the car. I don't know why we fell off what we did in practice. We were very quick this morning, but we will go back and see what we can do better. The race is a lot better than qualifying. I think we have a good race car. We'll go back and see what we've got to do now, and we'll get after it again tomorrow."
SAGE KARAM (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson c/w Curb-Agajanian): "That was a really good run for us. We've been really focusing on race setup, and to go a qualifying lap like that was really kind of unexpected. We'll take it. We're happy with that. There was a little less grip (on the track after the rain), but we trimmed the car out more. The rain did throw a little curve ball at us, but the team responded real well and gave me a good car. I was pretty stable out there, and I felt real good about the car."
JORGE GONCALVEZ (No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing): "It was really hard because I so flat out there the whole run. Basically, the setup of the car was pretty good. We found a good setup for qualifying, but something was wrong with the car. We will try to figure it out later. It should be good for the race."
JIMMY SIMPSON (No. 22 TMR-Reed Smith-Xtreme Drilling & Coil): "I'm a little bit disappointed that we weren't quicker. We thought we would be quite a bit quicker than this. We made some changes to the car that we thought would be faster, and the thing actually went slower than we were in practice. I'm not really sure. I think we're just going to look at the data and make some sense of it and make some improvements for tomorrow. And, you know, we do have a race car. The thing is very comfortable in traffic. It's just really strange that the car was this slow. I think the wind made a big difference for me. I noticed one of my laps was quite a bit quicker than the other one, and I got into the rev limiter a little earlier - quite a bit earlier - on the first lap, and I think I must have caught a gust on the second lap. But something might be amiss with the car. We'll just have to check and see what is going on with it. We were quicker in race trim and, as you know, race trim is quite a bit slower than qualifying trim."
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