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Iowa Indy Lights: Sage Karam wins Schmidt team-mates' tussle

Iowa Indy Lights podiumSage Karam led a Schmidt rout of Saturday evening's Indy Lights race at Iowa Speedway.

The Schmidt team finished 1-2-3 at the 7/8th mile oval, with Karam triumphing in a close battle with team-mates Gabby Chaves and Jack Hawksworth.

Fourth-placed Peter Dempsey was the only other driver still on the lead lap at the finish.

Karam had taken the lead from Hawksworth just after mid-distance, but his team-mates never let him out of sight.

Later, Hawksworth bobbled slightly when he was nearly run into the wall while navigating traffic, which allowed Chaves past, however the trio remained covered by less than half a second virtually all the way to the flag.

"I was a little down in the trailer before the race [after qualifying fifth]," said Karam, whose victory moved him into the championship lead.

"The team kept my spirits up, and they never give up so I wasn't going to give up on them. That was one of the hardest victories I've had to work for, so that definitely goes down as the best drive that I've ever had."

Chaves held on to second ahead of Hawksworth, who had led the opening laps after jumping polesitter Carlos Munoz at the start. After a difficult run of races, the Brit said that he was pleased to get back onto the podium.

"It's been a rough patch over the last three races, but today was good," he said.

Dempsey did well to climb to fourth after starting from last on the grid, but the real subplot to Schmidt's success was the problems at Andretti. Zach Veach drifted back to finish seventh, but Munoz's collapse was on a whole different scale.

After running with the leaders during the first few laps, he began losing speed dramatically. During the second half of the race his speed deficit to the leaders was as much as 10mph, and the driver who came into the weekend leading the points finished three laps down in last place. A thrashed left-front tyre told part of the story afterwards.

"I don't know what really happened," Munoz told AUTOSPORT. "The first few laps, the car was quite strong. After that I don't know whether the tyre went wrong or something broke on the car, but there was just huge, huge understeer. I've never had so much understeer in my life. I just couldn't do anything."

Results - 115 laps:

Pos  Driver             Team         Time/Gap
 1.  Sage Karam         Schmidt   39m59.0843s
 2.  Gabby Chaves       Schmidt      +0.2660s
 3.  Jack Hawksworth    Schmidt      +0.5222s
 4.  Peter Dempsey      Belardi     +15.9105s
 5.  Jorge Goncalvez    Belardi        +1 lap
 6.  Juan Pablo Garcia  Moore          +1 lap
 7.  Zach Veach         Andretti       +1 lap
 8.  Carlos Munoz       Andretti      +3 laps
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Munoz gets another Lights pole