Sage Karam scores first podium, draws angry message from Ed Carpenter (VIDEO)


First there was the bird. Then came a shaken fist.

Directed at Sage Karam, both were safely delivered at 175 mph by Ed Carpenter, who didn’t necessarily feel safe with less than 18 laps left in the Iowa Corn 300.

Karam, a rookie, was racing too close and rough for Carpenter’s liking. The fist went up after Carpenter was nearly run into the wall out of Turn 4.

But the driver-owner of CFH Racing had more to share with the 20-year-old. After exiting his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet following his sixth-place finish, Carpenter marched down pit road to Karam, who was perched on his red No. 8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Ganassi Chevy.

With a crowd and TV cameras watching, Carpenter gave his spiel to Karam, dropping a curse word or two before telling him, “You’ve got to learn some respect” and “You need to grow up” then marching off.

“He has no respect for anyone out there,” Carpenter told NBCSN’s Katie Hargitt. “He’d be hurting himself and other people. It’s cool Ryan (Hunter-Reay) won the race. American’s kicked butt. I was good for third or fourth. I do safe driving. I save Sage’s butt and he gets the podium. He should have been penalized on the spot.”

Karam, who earned his first career podium finish, was dismissive of Carpenter, claiming he was just returning the favor.

“He said I squeezed him. But it’s the same way he drove me,” Karam said. “I’m going for wins. It’s close racing. It’s IndyCar. Ain’t go-karts. We’re professionals. Tough luck for him, I don’t know.”

With G-loads of 4-4.5 in the corners, Karam claimed the race at Iowa Speedway was one of the toughest he’s ever ran.

“The steering became heavier,” Karam said. “My arms really were close to falling out.”

Karam said the goal of Chip Ganassi Racing, or at least his, entering the race was to help Scott Dixon get as many championship points as possible.

The plan changed. Charlie Kimball crashed on Lap 170,  Tony Kanaan – with five straight Iowa podiums – went fell out 19 laps later with a mechanical issue.

Then the centerpiece to the plan fell, with Dixon forced to go to the garage on Lap 234. That left an entire team’s hopes for a win – Ganassi’s 100th – on the shoulders of a winless rookie who wasn’t even born when it was founded.

“I was content to ride behind Dixon,” Karam said. “But when he was out I went for the win.”

Going for the win triggered the bird, a shook fist, and a lecture.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.