Firestone Indy Lights: St. Petersburg 100
Topics: St. Petersburg 100
March 23, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA
THE MODERATOR: We're pleased to be joined by two‑thirds of our podium finishers from St. Pete. Peter Dempsey from Belardi Auto Racing finished second. This is his second career Indy Lights start at St. Pete. His previous finish was third last year, so two podiums in two years. Today's finish matches his best career finish of second place done in Toronto in 2011. Peter, talk about starting this season with the momentum of a podium finish?
PETER DEMPSEY: To start the season, it's so important to finish the first race, so I owe a huge thanks to my team, Belardi Auto Racing, and Brian Belardi, and everyone on the team, my engineer. It's important to start off these championship runs with a pretty good finish.
And I can't really complain too much about second. Jack did a great job there at the end of the race; he had a great pace. So overall, happy enough. Obviously, a great run for Sage, too. Hopefully we'll keep fighting and getting those finishes in.
THE MODERATOR: This is Belardi Auto Racing's best finish in Firestone Indy Lights. We're also joined by Sage Karam of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports who finished third. This is his first Indy Lights start, and a strong one to make it to the podium. Sage, you made it to a new series and a new team this weekend, and it's paying off with your first weekend on the podium. Talk about your first race?
SAGE KARAM: The race was a lot of fun, and a lot of the seat time in this car really pays off. I got my deals done pretty late, two or three weeks ago, so really haven't gotten a lot of seat time. It was about three days before I came into this weekend.
Every time I'm out there, I'm still learning. In that race, I still learned a lot, and I think I actually improved throughout the race, and it's working really well.
The team chemistry is really good. My two teammates, Gabby Chaves and Jack Hawksworth, were my two team rivals last year. So it's a pretty cool experience, and it's good to have two teammates that are going to push me to my maximum level.
As I said, the team chemistry is awesome. They're really good people, and they work really hard. I'm going to give them my best, and for sure they're going to give me theirs.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Jack Hawksworth from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, the winner in his first Firestone Indy Lights start. He's the 11th driver to win in his first Firestone Indy Lights debut. Congratulations this is Schmidt Peterson's fourth consecutive Indy Lights win at St. Pete. Jack is a Pro Mazda reigning champion, graduating to Indy Lights with the Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship. Jack, if you will, talk about winning your first race ever in Firestone Indy Lights.
JACK HAWKSWORTH: Yeah, it's fantastic. Just as you said, it's been a long off‑season. I think everyone can testify to that. It's been a lot of work, a lot of stuff going on, trying to put deals together and training and all the usual stuff and testing. To come to the first race of the year and to have delivered a win, that's obviously fantastic. Especially my first win in Firestone Indy Lights as well, even better.
Puts us in a great position now to go on and try to get some more good results. We've got a fantastic team. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, they've given me a great car all weekend. Now it's head's down, and focus on the next one, because we have like two more in the next 12 weeks or something. So it's going to be a busy off‑season, I think.
Q. Take us through the initial start?
JACK HAWKSWORTH: Probably the most interesting part of the race for me. I had a good getaway, obviously, and I knew on the outside it was not exactly the place to be going into turn one. And then Carlos left a little bit of a gap on the inside. So I guess it really was on the inside of the circuit, and there was a lot of solid white, and dust and marbles I guess out there. We were able to get away with it.
I think we led the race for about five seconds at that point, and they were out. We just dialed back, and it was definitely an exciting start for everyone to watch this year.
Q. Jack and Peter, walk us through the restart.
JACK HAWKSWORTH: Yes, I made a mistake on the first, I think, and Peter was quick on cold tires and he was pushing hard. I knew that it was going to be difficult since passing is not the easiest position to pass from. So I just made sure my exits were good. So once the tire came up to temperature and I was comfortable in the car, I was able to open up to the second gap.
After that, Peter was quick and keeping us honest and keeping us there. But at the same time, everybody knew this race was going to be won at the end of the race rather than at the beginning or the middle because the tires were going away.
At that point in the race I was really concentrating on being able to maintain the gap and not ruin my tires for the end of the race. So I could pull away if there was another restart.
PETER DEMPSEY: For me, I knew it was one of the only chances I was going to have to get past Jack. He also ran a longer second gear than everyone else with the Schmidt tires and the Andretti tires. For me to run on the restart was difficult. Even the initial start, the green flag, it wasn't the right rev range to get a run. So I tried to anticipate. I think I gave him a bit of a nose to get him a bit loose, but the opportunity wasn't there. I just had to settle in and push him hard mid‑race and hope he might make a mistake. But he kept it pretty clean all race, and just couldn't get by so you just go to bring the car home at the end.
Q. Sage, talk about your battle with your former teammate before he spun out?
SAGE KARAM: Yeah, before I came into this race I knew that tire conservation was going to be huge. Once I knew I didn't really have that all‑out‑type pace with the two leaders, I just went into tire conservation mode. Zach was pushing pretty hard behind me. I just knew I had to get good runs out of the hair pins and the turns that led on the big straightaways, and if I got good runs in there, I knew I could hold him off.
He was pretty good in some turns, but we were better in some other turns. So it was pretty even. We had a good race car. When I drove consistent and when I drove my A‑game today, we pulled away from them a little bit.
But, like I said, I don't really have a lot of seat time in this thing, only like three days, so I was making some mistakes out there. But it's all part of learning, and I'm learning every session I go out there, so it's a lot of fun.
Q. Jack, what was your view on the collision between Munoz and Chaves?
JACK HAWKSWORTH: I don't know. Of course I was on the high end. But it kind of looked like a similar deal to me on the first start. He went very defensive, and Carlos went really low to the inside, and I don't know if Carlos lost it or Gabby. I don't know what. But I mean, I think it was half of dozen of one, and six of the other.
But I don't know. I think it was just a racing incident, and those guys were obviously pushing hard. Gabby didn't want to give up the position that Carlos was going for, and, yeah, it's unfortunate.
PETER DEMPSEY: You weren't complaining, that's for sure.
JACK HAWKSWORTH: Yeah, I was very happy.
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