NEWTON, Iowa — Starting from the pole for the third time in three years, Andretti Autosport driver Sage Karam completed his Iowa Speedway hat trick with a flag-to-flag run driving the No. 88 Andretti Autosport / Comfort Revolution Mazda in round six of the 2012 Star Mazda Championship Saturday night.
The race was cut ten laps short by a combination of lightning and rain, but not before championship points leader Jack Hawksworth – who qualified on the outside of the front row and was running in third hot on the heels of the leaders – spun and crashed in turn four at the three-quarter mark.
After a lengthy cleanup, the survivors were greeted not by a green flag and a 10-lap shootout, but rather by a checkered flag that favored the survivors; Martin Scuncio, who qualified fourth driving the No. 22 Juncos Racing / Pullman Bus Mazda finished second, and Connor De Phillippi, who started eighth with mechanical issues in qualifying, came home third.
De Phillippi’s podium finish in the No. 2 Juncos Racing / ModSpace Racing / One24 Mazda, combined with Hawksworth’s incident, moves him into the championship points lead headed into a trio of Canadian street races. This is Karam’s first pole and first win of the season; Scuncio won race two of round two at Barber Motorsports Park and De Phillippi has wins at the St. Pete season-opener and the Night Before the 500 at the Lucas Oil Raceway oval.
“The Star Mazda field is so close and competitive this season that you never know the results until the checkered flag waves,” said Karam, who won from the pole at Iowa in USF200 in 2010 and in Star Mazda in 2011. “We had a really good car here and I don’t think the race going the full distance instead of ending ten laps short would have made any difference. This win was really important because it gives us some momentum going into the Canadian races, where we were fast last year, and puts us in the hunt for the championship.”
Rounding out the top five were Finnish racer Petri Suvanto, driving the No. 81 Team Pelfrey / Mazda Road to Indy Mazda and Gabby Chaves in the No. 19 JDC Motorsports / COMCEL / Marca Colombia Mazda.
De Phillippi, who came to Iowa second in the points, leaves with 139 and the lead. Hawksworth, who has led the championship battle since the first race, is credited with a last-place finish and drops to second with 135 points.