An American will be on the pole for both the Indianapolis 500 and Freedom 100 after Sage Karam captured the top spot in time trials for Friday's Indy Lights race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Ed Carpenter is the other American on the pole for Sunday's 500-mile main event.
The race (noon ET, NBC Sports Network) is Karam's first-career oval event in a Lights car. He qualified with a two-lap average speed of 189.243 mph.
Karam is competing in his maiden Lights season and drives the No. 8 Comfort Revolutions car for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports. It is the fifth pole for the team in the Freedom 100, and despite the team's reputation Karam was surprised to find himself on the top of the speed charts.
"It's definitely a big confidence-booster," Karam said, who was also quickest in the brief morning practice session. "It was a big surprise because we didn't even work on our qualifying setup this morning. We were really just working on race day the entire month. The rain really threw us a curveball and the crew responded really well."
Qualifications were delayed three hours due to rain, and the 11 drivers faced a green track when they took their first laps. Conditions will not provide for a lot of grip once the race begins on Friday, a fact not lost on Karam.
"There's going to be a lot of strategy," Karam said. "I know this race comes down to the last 10 laps, there's a lot of draft here. Getting the pole is awesome, but it's really not as important as other tracks. Definitely it's going to be strategy, it's going to be a big mental thing, and like I said, I know we have a good race car so I'm really stoked about it."
Firestone Indy Lights championship leader Carlos Munoz recorded a two-lap average of 189.276 mph and will start second in an entry prepared by Andretti Autosport. Munoz will also start second in his first-career Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
The complete results from qualifying can be found below.
- Sage Karam
- Carlos Munoz
- Peter Dempsey
- Gabby Chaves
- Jack Hawksworth
- Kyle O'Gara
- Zach Veach
- Juan Pablo Garcia
- Chase Austin
- Jorge Goncalvez
- Jimmy Simpson