Sage Karam focusing on Indy Lights title after first win

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With his first Firestone Indy Lights victory out of the way, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Sage Karam is now setting his sights on the series championship as the scene shifts to the 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway for tonight’s Sukup 100.

“The first one’s always the toughest,” said Karam, who triumphed last weekend at the Milwaukee Mile. “To get that first one, it almost lifts a thousand pounds off your shoulders. Definitely feeling good and definitely having some good momentum going into Iowa with two poles in a row and a win – definitely good feelings. But we have to put that behind us and just focus on Iowa now. It’s in the past; just hopefully, we can carry that momentum.”

Karam sits 18 points behind Lights points leader Carlos Munoz going into Iowa, the third in a stretch of four consecutive oval races for the series. The American has had great success at the track while progressing through the Mazda Road to Indy, as he won there in USF2000 back in 2010 and then collected back-to-back Pro Mazda victories in 2011 and 2012.

Altogether, he’s very confident of success on the speedways – which, in his eyes, may be the determining factor in who walks away with the Lights title this season.

“I think what’s going to win the championship for us this year is good results on the ovals,” he said. “We got the win at Milwaukee. That was huge for us. I think Iowa can be another good one. We won there the last three years.  Hopefully, we can make it a four-peat. [I’m] definitely comfortable when it comes to the ovals. I love them.”

As a result, good results at this race and the next one at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway will be critical to his run toward a title, which he says has to begin immediately.

“I think we were 29 points [behind] going into Milwaukee, now we’re only 18 – [we’ve] definitely made some progress,” said Karam. “We have to start getting some wins here and keep chipping away at [Munoz]. I’d like to go into Pocono almost tied with him. I think that would be a good goal, hopefully come out of Pocono in the lead.”

NBC Sports Network will broadcast tonight’s Lights race (Green Flag – 8:50 p.m. ET) on June 28 at 11 p.m. ET.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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