ST. PETERSBURG — As he raced the final laps of Saturday's USF2000 race, Sage Karam looked behind him and found no one there. Karam then felt at ease, realizing he had grabbed the pole position for today's race, the second of a doubleheader.
"I woke up about three or four times the night before," Karam said. "And I spent the first 30 minutes before the race pacing back-and-forth, riding my scooter to get the butterflies out. It helped to have such a big lead to calm me down."
Karam, 15, took the lead in the first lap and never relinquished it, finishing 20 laps in 28 minutes, 47.96 seconds, nearly 14 seconds faster than his closest competitor, Patrick McKenna, in the entry-level series. Karam set a series lap record on Lap 13 in 1:13.50.
"We definitely picked up some speed," he said. "It really gives me a strong mental game going in knowing that I'm on the front row, and I really have a good shot at winning the race."
Karam, who signed with Michael Andretti's team about a month ago, has spent this weekend ahead of the field. He also was the fastest driver in Friday's morning and afternoon practices.
up front in Indy Lights: James Hinchcliffe earned the pole with a lap of 1:06.34.
"We're jelling, and we were top two in both practices," he said. "Now, it's just about getting a clean start (today)."
In his debut season last year, Hinchcliffe was on the front row three times and was in the top 10 in 10 races, including finishes of third and sixth in two races in St. Petersburg. This season, Hinchcliffe switched from Sam Schmidt Motorsports to Team Moore Racing.
OTHER SERIES: Each of the three World Challenge classes (GT, GTS and TC) raced together. Randy Pobst, who started on the pole in GT, won his class. He moved into a tie for third place in World Challenge wins with 23. Peter Cunningham took the GTS class and Todd Buras won TC. … Conor Daly earned the pole for today's Star Mazda race with a lap of 1:10.352.