Firestone Indy Lights: Pocono 100
Topics: Pocono 100
July 6, 2013
LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA
THE MODERATOR: Post race press conference. We are pleased ton joined by Sage Karam of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. This is Sage's sixth podium finish of the season, with six podiums in seven races.
Talk about today's race in front of your hometown crowd and the battle with your teammate, Gaby Chaves.
SAGE KARAM: Yeah, I was excited for this race knowing it was my hometown crowd. I just had a lot of people here and wanted to bring home a big win for them and just did what I could. Carlos was really fast and could not keep up with him. I was flat out the whole race, didn't lift once, just had nothing for him.
The team did a great job. I had a good battle there with Gaby at the end. It was really fun, because we've raced each other since we were in go‑karts at ten years old. So we know each other like the back of our hands and we knew we were going to race each other with respect and clean. But we actually had some contact there a little bit and I think I damaged his front wing, got my left rear tire. But it was pretty cool the last ten laps.
Q. It looked like he was squeezing you for so long there, could you talk about that, and how you recovered? Seemed to find an extra gear or something.
SAGE KARAM: Yeah, he was ‑‑ with these cars, open‑wheel cars, the downforce level is so huge that when you get behind a car and there's no air going to your front wing, the car just won't turn. We were struggling to turn.
So Gaby was definitely driving in his mirrors and whenever I would go high to get the air in my front wing, he would go higher and just take it off, and I just could not get through the corner like he could. It was really screwing me up.
So, I had to use some strategy there. I was going low, going high, going low, going high, just had to find a way around to get to the air. We got to the air there one time, and I went for the move, didn't make it stick, and I had to settle back behind him.
And my engineer got on the radio and said, "All right, yeah, you're going to have to do this again, you're going to commit."
I said, all right, put my head down and got back in the draft, set him up again and made him stick and that was it. Yeah, just basically made that pass trying different lines. I didn't do anything different with my gears. It was just the air; that was why I was off the ground.
Q. Would it not be more clever to work together with your teammateto catch Munoz instead of fighting against each other?
SAGE KARAM: We tried. We stayed nose‑to‑tail for 30 laps hoping that that was going to do it, and it should have. We should have been able to catch him, but we just couldn't; he was so fast.
You know, me and Gaby did whatever we could just to get up to his gear box. We knew right off lap one that it was going to be no chance. And once he was pull us in a straight line, and we were two car lengths, three car lengths behind him, we knew we just had to fend for ourselves and stick together and we were going to settle this on the last ten laps, and that's what we did.
THE MODERATOR: Speaking of your teammate, we welcome Gaby Chaves, talk about today's race.
GABY CHAVES: I don't know what to say. We did what we had to do to make it go down to the last couple laps, and Carlos just ran away. We had nothing for him.
So we definitely have some work to do, but the team still gave us a car to finish on the podium, so we still had a strong result.
The last few laps, we had a really good battle with Sage, side‑by‑side a couple times. And one time there, I had a good counterattack going and we made some contact. My front wing took some damage, and after that, the car was just a real handful and I was just really trying to hold on.
Once I had the damage already, there was no way I could hold off Sage, and the third place is the best we could do today, so keep working.
Q. You mentioned the contact with your teammate, and the damage it did to his front wing; did it damage your car at all? Did you feel any change in handling after that?
SAGE KARAM: No, honestly, I was actually quite surprised it didn't damage the car, because he hit right on the tire, usually when carbon hits tire, it's not good, and that tire is going to go flat.
But I knew he hit me. I felt it. It was a pretty good hit, and at that point, though, I wasn't even‑‑ I didn't even care if it wasn't flat. I was going to keep it flat until it went flatter; you know, the car was stopped in the wall (laughing). But, no, thankfully it held up.
Q. At noon yesterday, you said that already, you could sense that maybe Munoz had it to be able to get away from you if you didn't find it. But it seemed that you found some speed yesterday afternoon, and you really closed in on him but today it didn't happen again. What might have happened between yesterday afternoon and today?
SAGE KARAM: Yesterday I ran that lap I think 47:09. I was in a pretty big tow with some cars and got a good draft, and he did his 47:09 alone. We knew we were in trouble. He had about four or five tenths on me running alone, and that's never good.
We're closer on road courses and four or five tenths on an oval, that's usually the separation between first and last, and I'm not first or second. He was definitely in a world of his own this weekend and we knew that from the first session.
You know, we just had to do what we could, and if we couldn't beat him, the next best thing was to finish right behind him and that's what I had to settle for.
THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to be joined by our race winner of today's Pocono 400 Firestone Indy Lights winner, Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport, his third win of the season and all three wins, you led flag to flag, and you take over the points lead by four over Sage Karam. Talk about today's race.
CARLOS MUNOZ: Nice. It's nice to be back in the victory after a tough week in Iowa and Milwaukee. It's a long championship, but still, five races now, we are going to have circuits, street circuits. So going to be tough, and I've been strong on the circuits so far this year.
But this race, yeah, I knew if I can give a little bit of the second, I could take my draft and put it away, because I was really faster than anyone since the beginning of the weekend.
So yeah, it was a consistent race, and just don't make any mistakes.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about giving your team owner, Michael Andretti, a win here at Pocono.
CARLOS MUNOZ: For sure, it's nice to have the pole position for the IndyCar, and we have been struggling really a lot this year, and for Indy Lights (ph) and he would love to have two wins here. I'm sure he's happy to be back on the top in the podium.
Q. In principle, Indy Lights and IndyCar are a totally different machine, when you speak to your colleagues from the IndyCar business, is there anything that you can take setup‑wise applies to your car and use it to your advantage?
CARLOS MUNOZ: The truth is, yes, we take more or less what is struggling with the IndyCars, we will have the same problems. We talk about it and we tried it on the Indy Lights and it really worked and that give us an idea what the track needs on the level of the setup and that's what we did in the race, more than the qualifying we did for the race, and it helps a lot.
Q. How heavy was that trophy in victory lane?
CARLOS MUNOZ: It was really, really heavy, and it has a nice American eagle on it, so it's a pretty nice trophy.
Q. When are we going to get to see you in an IndyCar again? You almost won the biggest race on the schedule?
CARLOS MUNOZ: I don't know, you have to go and ask again Michael as I said, in Indianapolis, you have to go and ask him. They haven't said anything to me or my manager because they want me to focus right now.
Maybe we are working for Sonoma because it doesn't affect the Indy Lights program, but right now, it's nothing sure, so I can't say anything. We working for more next year; that I would prefer more to do a full season than one race.
Q. At what point today or yesterday did you think, you had this place figured out and you knew you were going to be pretty confident?
CARLOS MUNOZ: I think since yesterday afternoon, I knew I had a great car to be really fast. The truth is yesterday I was not happy in traffic with the car. I was struggling a lot, and this morning, we make a couple of changes, as I say, we went to the IndyCar direction with the change, and this morning in practice and just focused on the race. I was really happy with the car. So I knew if I was alone, I can make a gap, I could pull away, and that's what happened.
Q. Do you get a lot of help as far as setting up from what the IndyCar guys are doing at a particular track? Did you say that that was part of what helped you today, what they were doing helped you?
CARLOS MUNOZ: Yeah, it helped me a lot, because more or less, the IndyCar had the same problem back in practice, especially in traffic, and I had the same problem, also, in traffic. So the engineers and Michael, they said did this, they went a little aggressive, that's what we did, also, we went to aggressive way, and it helps a lot.
Q. But you really had no traffic when it came race time. We asked you earlier in the day whether you thought you were going to be able to get away and turn this into a boring thing and you said no; did you really believe that at the time or did you have a pretty good feel that you had it handled?
CARLOS MUNOZ: No, the truth is, I knew if I had a little gap, that the second can put my with my draft really in the tow, I could put it away, because I was two or three tenths faster each lap than the others without the tow.
So yes, I knew I could pull away. I saw a little of distance after T1, and I said, okay, now you have to be flat and to be consistent to pull away, and that's what I did.
Q. What happened at the start of the first, that it got waved off? Did somebody try to sandbag you?
CARLOS MUNOZ: I think I was a little bit ‑‑ really quick. So we wanted to do another start after Iowa, that the second is a jump start, for sure. I wanted to go earlier than normally I go, so that's what I did. Didn't work, but the second start, I think it was great.
THE MODERATOR: Carlos, congratulations on a great win, thanks for joining us today.
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