LONG POND, Pa. -- Sage Karam rolled out of bed while it was still dark July 5 for a TV interview. At least he didn't have far to drive.
Karam, 18, of Nazareth, Pa., is in demand this week at Pocono Raceway, which hosts the Pocono 100 at 4 p.m. (ET) July 6, and not solely because he's the local story. Karam is the Firestone Indy Lights championship points leader heading into the 40-lap race on the tri-oval.
"It's a cool feeling to wake up in your own bed, then be able to go to the racetrack. It's a first for me," said Karam, who was second fast during an Open Test on July 5. "I'm really looking forward to that, being comfortable and knowing this atmosphere.
"I want to represent Pocono and Pennsylvania and I want to win. I don't want to lose in front of my home crowd, so I'm going to give it everything I can to beat these guys."
Click it: Combined Open Test session results
Karam has done just that in the past two races -- winning on a pair of short tracks -- to move ahead of Carlos Munoz by nine points in the standings as the series enters the second half of the 12-race season. Now it's back to a big, wide oval.
“Today was the first time I ever drove around Pocono so it’s all new to me," said Karam, who recorded a best lap of 187.548 mph (47.9876 seconds) in the No. 8 Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian car. "It’s a pretty big place. It’s definitely one of those tracks where you really need to be smooth. The little things are what’s going to get time out of the car."
Munoz, driving the No. 26 Dialy-Ser car for Andretti Autosport, was the quickest in the Open Test (187.688 mph; 47.9518 seconds) in which eight drivers 795 laps. Gabby Chaves (186.187 mph) was third fast in the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian car. Zach Veach, who recorded a field-high 140 laps, was fourth (186.150 mph) in the No. 12 K12 Andretti Autosport car.
"It was a good test day," said Munoz, who has four Sunoco Pole Awards and two victories this season. "In the morning we focused on the car since it was my first time here and used the first couple of laps to adapt. It's quite tricky and Turn 1 is the hardest corner. The car is different in each corner so you have to adapt the car for each corner.
"In the afternoon, we focused on the race setup and trying to run in traffic. We improved the car a lot. Tomorrow is a long day and it will be a tough race. Hopefully we can stay up front."
Following a 45-minute practice session, qualifications are at 12:15 p.m. (ET). All sessions, including the race, will be broadcast by the IMS Radio Network augmented by live Timing & Scoring on www.indycar.com and the INDYCAR 13 app.