Karam to Start From Pole in Houston
 October 5, 2013| 
  • Series News

By Dave Lewandowski – indycar.com

HOUSTON, Texas — Sage Karam and Carlos Munoz will share the front row for the Grand Prix of Houston as the Firestone Indy Lights Race Director decided to set the starting grid for the 45-lap race today by entrant points in accordance with Rule of the Firestone Indy Lights rulebook.

Delays in the track schedule because of a racing surface issue that was addressed overnight and into the morning canceled the 30-minute qualifying round on the 1.634-mile, 10-turn circuit at Reliant Park. A modified morning schedule included a 20-minute practice session.

Karam, driving the No. 8 Schmidt Peterson with Curb Agajanian car, takes a two-point lead over Munoz into the penultimate race of the season. Karam, who has three podium finishes in the four street course races, turned the fastest lap in the initial practice Oct. 4 of 1 minute, 09.3931 seconds on his last of 29 laps. Karam did not receive the bonus point for the pole.

Teammate Gabby Chaves is four points back and the third Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian driver, Jack Hawksworth, is 11 points behind. Hawksworth, the 2012 Pro Mazda champion, has won three of the street races.

“It’s tough. We got pole, but that’s not really the way you want to win a pole position,” Karam said. “But at this point of the season, a pole’s a pole. Hopefully we can get off to a good start, stay clean the first few laps and try to pull away.

“The bumps are really physical. It’s going to be really hard to stay consistent and hard to be smooth over every lap. I think who’s going to win this race is going to be who makes the least mistakes and stays the most consistent.”

Chaves and Hawksworth will share Row 2, while Jorge Goncalvez in the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing car and Zach Veach in the No. 12 K12/Andretti Autosport car will be on Row 3. Goncalvez moved from Team Moore Racing to Brian Belardi’s entry — previously driven by Peter Dempsey — for this race.

Hawksworth was fastest in the Oct. 5 practice with a best lap of 1:06.3062 without the chicane that was in place the day before to slow the cars entering the Turn 1 surface issue. Munoz (1:06.8858) was second in the No. 26 Dialy-Ser car for Andretti Autosport. Dempsey, driving the No. 2 TMR-Global Tubing/ALS Association car, was third (1:07.2061) and Karam (1:07.3003) was fourth.

“This track is really physical, so we’ll have to push a lot and be really consistent,” said Munoz, who has three victories this season. “It’s hard to pass on this circuit, so I have to really manage the overtaking. It’s a long race, this is just the beginning and I will work really hard in the race.”

Real-time Timing & Scoring augmented by the IMS Radio Network broadcast is available at 1:30 p.m. (ET) on www.indycar.com and the INDYCAR 13 app. NBC Sports Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. (ET) Oct. 6, following the IZOD IndyCar Series race.

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