New title points leader; Hawksworth cruises
 September 1, 2013| 
  • Series News

By Dave Lewandowski,

BALTIMORE, Md. — Two races, five drivers and one Firestone Firehawk Cup.

That’s the breakdown of the remaining Firestone Indy Lights season following the Grand Prix of Baltimore as the championship chase tightened with points front-runner Carlos Munoz finishing ninth with his second DNF of the season.

One new street circuit at Houston and one big oval in Fontana, Calif., await drivers in October.

“I don’t really know what happened,” said Munoz, whose No. 26 Dialy-Ser car made right-side contact with a concrete barrier on the long straight before pit lane on Lap 6 of 35. “I just braked and needed the car just to stop for the wall. I’m not sure if the car broke or just snapped.

“What can I say? We still have two races to go. Everyone in the championship is really close from each other, but that’s another thing we expect. I have to go racing these last two races.”

Jack Hawksworth, who entered the race 39 points behind after earning the Sunoco Pole Award, won his third street course race of the season in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian car. He won one race and was the runner-up on the back end of the doubleheader in Baltimore en route to the Pro Mazda championship in 2012.

“It was the perfect weekend for us from start to finish,” he said. “We rolled off the truck, we were quick straight from the off. When it’s like that it makes your life a lot easier.”

Sage Karam recorded his seventh podium with the runner-up finish in the No. 8 Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian car. Teammate Gabby Chaves, who earned his maiden Firestone Indy Lights victory three weeks earlier at Mid-Ohio, finished third for the fourth time this season. Firestone Freedom 100 winner Peter Dempsey finished fourth in the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing car.

All of that leaves the standings:

Sage Karam — 373  Carlos Munoz — 371  Gabby Chaves — 369  Jack Hawksworth — 362  Peter Dempsey — 338

Karam, who started fourth, overtook Chaves and Munoz on the first lap and held the position throughout the laps though he was unable to close on Hawksworth following the final restart on Lap 9. The result was a season low for Munoz, who has three victories and five pole starts. He retook the points lead with a decisive victory July 7 at Pocono Raceway.

“People said it was going to be a crazy race.  If anybody is going to race anybody hard, it’s going to be the guys going for the championship,” Karam said. “Didn’t have anything for Jack. Once I knew that, it was pretty much secure as many points as we could, try to get second.”

It was the second podium sweep of the season for Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian drivers.

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