“R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.”
Aretha Franklin’s 1967 cover of the Otis Redding piece came out well before both Ed Carpenter (1981) and Sage Karam (1995) were born, but one of R&B’s all-time biggest hits might be the lyric that best described their separate post-Iowa interviews on Query & Schultz, the radio show hosted by Jake Query and Derek Schultz on WNDE Radio in Indianapolis.
At issue was Carpenter’s viewpoint that Karam, the rookie who raced the veteran hard Saturday night in the Iowa Corn 300, lacks the necessary respect both for himself and the rest of the field, and it will eventually catch up with him.
“I was upset with Sage for the way he was driving,” Carpenter told Query. “He’s a talented guy in a great car and I thought he could have been more respectful.
“I wasn’t mad because we were racing close. I was mad because he was doing things 95 percent of the field doesn’t do.”
Carpenter said this has been building over the last three oval races in the Verizon IndyCar Series season, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, last weekend at the Milwaukee Mile and Saturday night at Iowa Speedway.
Carpenter, driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet and team co-owner at CFH Racing, said he was not angry about the close racing and losing the podium but just how Karam is driving, in his estimation.
“The part I was angry was the lack of respect he was shwing for himself, the car, other drivers. That’s what I was going to talk to him about,” Carpenter said.
“It’s the lack of respect he’s showing. It was me in that race. I saw him doing some crazy stuff at Fontana and Milwaukee. I’m not mad he’s on the podium. He ran strong all night. I was angry about how he was driving, not that he beat me.”
Karam, who came on the show before Carpenter, noted his respect for not just him, but the entire field.
“I respect him. He’s a race winner. He’s a proven driver. I respect all the drivers,” said the driver of the No. 8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
“Nothing’s intentional. There were 20 laps left in the race. If that were 20 laps from the beginning of the race, no one would have talked about it.
“You watch the Fontana race, I can’t tell you how many bonehead moves were thrown. Everyone was mad at someone. It’s close racing. We can run side-by-side. Fumes are gonna occur when this happens.”
After the post-race confrontation, it turned out Karam and Carpenter had another face-to-face meeting on the flight back to Indianapolis.
“Actually we were on the same flight home together which was funny,” Karam said. “I was in the aisle seat. Ed walked by. I looked at him. He looked at me. He smiled a bit. He was joking a bit. He said, ‘I’m still mad at you by the way.’
“It’s open seating. So I say ‘I have an open seat right alongside me if you want to talk about it.’ He made a joke, ‘I gotta go back. I have three kids to take care of, I don’t need to take care of a fourth.’ It was pretty funny. I was sitting with my whole crew. It’ll be alright. Everyone starts laughing. It’s just the heat of the moment, it’s all good.”
Carpenter confirmed the story, but didn’t consider it a laughing matter.
“I was stopped right next to Sage. He looked at me. I said, ‘I’m still mad at you.’ He said, ‘I’ve got a seat in the middle.’ Then I said, ‘no, I have three kids to take care of, I don’t need a fourth.’
“I was mostly serious, at that point.”
A funnier moment both seemed to agree on was their respective inclusion in the same “Clash of Clans” clan, a game on the iPhone.
“Me and him have always been close. We’re on the iPhone app “Clash of Clans,” we’re in the same Clash of Clans clan,” Karam said.
Both interviews are well worth a listen in full, and are linked here.
Karam, who I wrote earlier today has perhaps inadvertently grown into IndyCar’s needed “black hat,” will race at the next IndyCar round at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 2, while Carpenter’s next driving appearance will come at Pocono Raceway on August 23 – a race that is right now scheduled as both drivers’ last in 2015.