Firestone Indy Lights: Long Beach 100
Topics: Long Beach 100
April 21, 2013
LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR: We'll begin here for our Firestone Indy Lights race. Sage, this was your first Firestone Indy Lights start at Long Beach. It's your second podium finish of the season. You finished third at the season opener at St. Pete, and your podium today moves you into third in the overall point standings. Tell us about the race today, and talk about the pass on lap 26 around Jorge to get the final spot on the podium?
SAGE KARAM: Yeah, I mean, earlier this weekend we were pretty quick in practice, and I made a slight mistake in qualifying and ended up ruining my chances at pole. Had to start dead last. Going down into turn one, there was some mayhem, and I ended up working my way around that and just had to put my head down and try to get by the guys ahead of us. Then there was some more mayhem, got around that.
Then I was in fourth and had a good shot at podium. I was on Jorge, and made a pretty aggressive move going into turn eight, and wait on the brakes. It's kind of the last‑minute decision. He kind of had a bad run coming out of six there, so I saw an opportunity and I took it, and ended up paying off getting on the podium.
THE MODERATOR: Gabby, this is your first Firestone Indy Lights start at Long Beach and your best finish in the series. Your previous best two weeks ago at Barber, talk about today's race, and also the incident at the beginning of the race.
GABBY CHAVES: Yeah, I mean, well, this weekend it's been a bit tough for me. We didn't really have a great first session. Second session I think we were pretty competitive. I think our team was going to run the new tires like some of the other guys did.
So our true potential didn't show in the second practice. But, we certainly pushed hard in qualifying. It didn't come together. Carlos had an unbeatable pace in qualifying. And we just tried to focus on the race, tried to get a good start.
It was really chaotic in the start, just trying to get around that cleanly. Found ourselves in third after the first lap, and then just worked on it from there.
Finally with Garcia had a mistake and got around him, and it was all about looking after the car and the tires while trying to push. Hopefully in my position catch up to Carlos. Carlos was running a pretty consistent race. And it seemed like I could stay with him, but I couldn't really catch him. So I'm happy for this result. I'm happy we're improving every time we're on the track. So, overall, it's a good weekend.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, Carlos and Andretti Autosport. This is his second consecutive race that Carlos has led flag to flag. He finished fifth in his only other start here at Long Beach. With today's win, Carlos now leads the Firestone Indy Lights points standings. Carlos, talk about today's race and taking over the points lead from Jack Hawksworth.
CARLOS MUNOZ: I knew it was a long race, 45 laps. Our strategy was to be first in the first corner. Last year was a little bit difficult in the first corner with the aero balance we changed last minute to go low, so that really helped. We got a great start.
I saw the crash in the mirror, not the wall. So it crashed after that. When I came by the next time it was one of my two biggest competitors now for the championship, so I said, okay, now I have to finish the race. The main key is to not make any mistakes, and that's what I did.
I tried to stay away from the walls, not take any risks. I was trying to be consistent and not to push 100%, and it paid off. It's my second consecutive win. A perfect weekend again. Now we have to be focused on the ovals. Wednesday we have the practice, so it's pretty good.
THE MODERATOR: In a couple of weeks you'll participate in the rookie orientation at Indianapolis. Talk about making your first attempt at the Indy 50?
CARLOS MUNOZ: Yeah, it's a great opportunity. We have a really good team. I tested in Texas one month ago, and I feel really comfortable. My main goal here is to win the Indy Lights, to be focused on that. After that, I think I have a good head to be in the Indy Lights and Indy 500, and that's okay.
Q. Carlos, you mentioned that you weren't pressing a hundred percent during the race. But how difficult is that because sometimes it's harder to drive not at your hundred percent to do that? It's been difficult, and still very challenging, yeah?
CARLOS MUNOZ: Yeah, for sure. When you relax is when the mistakes come. When I say I wasn't pushing, of course, I was pushing a lot, but not as the lap before yesterday in qualifying. That qualifying was all the time near the wall. I had a great car, so it was more easy for me to be fast and to be constant.
It was a long race for me, you know? I think it was 45 laps to try to maintain that. So, yeah, it was difficult. I was trying, and sometimes the concentration would go away, of course, but I was trying to be focused again quickly.
Q. Can each of you describe what you saw on the first lap crash? Were you surprised that it happened down the strait instead of in the turn?
CARLOS MUNOZ: I just saw the crash. Whether I saw in the mirrors like was going inside the wall to my teammates, and I think they crashed, no? I think he got nervous because he didn't have a great start. But I don't really see this guy better.
GABBY CHAVES: I think I probably had the best view of everyone because Sage was more towards the back. It sounded like Jack got a pretty good jump on Jack, and they were just side by side. It's hard to tell who is at fault here. They were really near the wall. And Zach touched the wall and just kind of bounced back on to Jack, and then Jack went and got Peter as well. So just kind of happened.
It all really happened so quick. At that moment you're really not paying attention of let's see exactly what happened. You're really just trying to get by there without hitting anyone or any piece of debris.
Q. Sage, describe how you made the pass to take the podium?
SAGE KARAM: I knew coming up to that lap we were definitely holding us up, and we had a quicker race car at the time. Actually, one of the benefits‑‑ there's really not any benefit to crashing a race car‑‑ but yesterday when we crashed, we had a new set of tires for the race. So I knew I had a maximum grip later in the race compared to him.
I could see he was getting a little loose on exits and turns, and going into or coming out of six that one lap he had this big wiggle. I knew that was my opportunity that I was going to have to go put it down on the inside of him and into turn 8. I took that chance, and I got on the throttle really aggressive but kept the wheels under me, and I was able to make it stick up the hill and just made a real aggressive move in, and it paid off.
Q. Carlos, talk about taking the points lead?
CARLOS MUNOZ: Yeah, I'm pretty happy, no. It's a long championship. There are a lot of races to go. The main key is to be consistent. The whole, the good result in the next race, maybe I'm not going to be that committed to take the whole points possible. I think it's to be consistent now.
It's a good feeling, you know, after I knew Jack had to be‑‑ had to make a mistake, no, and he did in this race. I did a mistake in St. Pete, and he did it here. For sure I'm going to do another mistake in the championship, but that's racing.
Q. Going back to Carlos, so gearing up for the Indianapolis 500, what kind of advice are you getting from former teammates or just from the Andretti Autosport team? Who all is giving advice, and what are the main things they're telling you to prepare for that?
CARLOS MUNOZ: Right now I didn't ask a lot about the Indianapolis 500. I think I'm focused and going race by race. I'm going to spend the whole month in Maine, and I'm going to start to work and see a lot of races. After this, I'm going to watch the IndyCar in the pit box with the radio just to learn a lot.
I have really good teammates with a lot of experience. Hunter‑Reay, for sure, Michael with the Indy 500. So it's going to be quite interesting.
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