WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- A pole start in the Milwaukee 100 is another great opportunity to make a statement in his first Firestone Indy Lights season. It's also an opportunity to break out of the championship points logjam.
Karam, driving the No. 8 Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian car, earned his second consecutive Sunoco Pole Award with a two-lap average speed of 146.798 mph (49.7828 total seconds) in qualifications for the June 15 race at The Milwaukee Mile.
“It is going to be very important to get the lead here right away," said Karam, 18, of Nazareth, Pa. "So I am going to push pretty good and hopefully get a good lead and put my head down and run consistent laps. Hopefully buildup a big gap and stay comfortable out there. This is a track that gave me my first win with Star Mazda so hopefully it can give me my first win in Indy Lights. It is shaping up to be a good one so far, lets go for a perfect weekend and keep it going."
Click it: Milwaukee 100 qualifying results
Karam also started from the pole at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the May 24 Firestone Freedom 100 and finished third in a four-wide finish that was the closest margin of victory on the historic 2.5-mile oval. Championship points leader Carlos Munoz has started from the pole in the three road/street course events.
Munoz, who qualified fourth in the No. 26 Dialy-Ser car for Andretti Autosport (145.809 mph), holds a 27-point advantage over Freedom 100 winner Peter Dempsey heading into the second of four consecutive oval races. Eight points separate Dempsey from fifth-place Jack Hawksworth. With the bonus point for the pole included, Karam and teammate Gabby Chaves are tied for third (28 points arrears).
Zach Veach missed out on his first Sunoco Pole Award by .0296 of a second over the two laps. Still, he'll start a season-best second in the No. 12 K12 car for Andretti Autosport.
"We came here and tested about a week ago and that really didn’t go so well," Veach said. "To rebound and be on our first front row in Milwaukee, where we gained our first pole back in 2011 (in USF2000) is a really good feeling for us. We have a lot more work to do before the race, but we will go back and study what we need to."
Dempsey tied his season best by qualifying third (146.043 mph) in the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing car, and Munoz posted a two-lap average of 145.809 mph for fourth as the first qualifier.
"Considering we're being quite conservative on our tire usage, I'm quite happy to end up third," Dempsey said, noting the 100 laps on the rough racing surface. "I probably didn't get the most out of (the car), because I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it was compared to our other sessions. We know we have a good race car so we're hoping to bring home another win to take the championship lead. That's what counts."