The Andretti Autosport/Comfort Revolution #88 Star Mazda seemed poised to capture two podiums and possibly a couple of victories after Friday’s double practices. “The car was fast but we were like .7 off teh pole. We were baffled as to why we had so much understeer and where so far off the fast time of the day. I was driving very close to the limit and couldn’t find anything more”, said Sage. “Then my ace mechanic, Fred, discovered the problem Friday at the end the sessions. We had a broken rear bar, which caused the car to push bad and I couldn’t get the rotation I needed. I slept well Friday night knowing that we just found a huge solution to my problem.”
Sure enough, on Saturday’s qualifying stint, Sage immediately felt the difference with the repaired car. “I was pretty fast and was only 1/1000ths of a second off the pole when we the radio clicked and Yancy (engineer) asked me if I wanted to give it a shot at pole with new tires? I responded yes. My teammate, Zach #77, came in too. We got teh tires and went out together. I was on it and Zach followed my lead. As the time ran out, we crossed the line. I set the new track rccord and qualified first! Zach qualified right behind me in second.”
Race one started and Sage had a huge four-second lead on the field in a soft rain. This normally is no big deal, but this time the entire field got caught on slick tires. “I had a very comfortable lead and we decided to take an easy and not risk going off in the rain. This was probably the reason I didn’t start on the pole on Sunday (grid is set by Saturday’s race times) because the guys behind me were driving hard. We pitted for rain tires under yellow flag conditions and gave up the lead. about half the field stayed out on slicks which was a huge gamble for most of the field. I feel the yellow flag condition was too long and I was hoping it would go green again, or else I would be stuck with a 10th place finish. The track went green with two laps to go. I knew the guys on slicks would go off at the end of the straightaway in turn one and they did of course. I carved my way through the remaining cars on slicks easily and then the yellow came out. There was one car left in fornt of me on slicks and it was his lucky day! I ended up passing 8 cars in one lap. The race ended under yellow and I finished in second. I was very disappointed, but we gathered great championship points. I moved into fourth place in the standings.”
Sunday’s race had Sage starting in 4th position based on Saturday’s times. “I got a great start and immediately move into 3rd place. Early into lap two I passed into 2nd place. The early dicing cost me time and the leader got a nice gap on me. I ran a faster lap than him four laps in, but knew it would take a yellow flag to get me close enough to strike. I knew there’d be a yellow and I decided to save my tires for that opportunity”.
“The yellow came late in the race and I had a great run on the leader. I was going to get him in turn one, but another driver illegally jumped the restart and had a monster sized run on me. I had to tuck in behind the leader to defend my spot which really hurt me. It was then determined that the driver of the #22 car who made the illegal restart, had to be relegated back to his original spot of 5th position. I was bummed because this cost me a chance at the win.”
With several laps remaining, another yellow came out. “I had two laps to get it done. I had another great restart and the leader brake checked me. I had to check up and it cost me momentum and the chance of winning. I drove it hard as I could the last lap and caught teh leader. I was lucky i saved my tires because I had my wheels under me and I was attacking hard. I wasn’t close enough to make a pass, so I had to settle for another second place finish”.
Sage Karam moved into third in the championship standings and is only three points out of second place. “I am very excited about the situation in the standings and my team’s postion. We are very confident and I am driving better than ever. I feel we are in a great position heading into Trois-Rivieres to gain ground on the championship standings. This title fight isn’t over by any means”.