Let’s call it “Sage Gate” for lack of a better name but let’s be clear that a lot of people – including IndyCar – are still looking at Sage Karam’s harmless spin on Lap 66 of Sunday’s Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio as some possible nefarious teamwork.
Because of an untimely yellow prior to his first pit stop, Karam’s pole-sitting Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon (who easily led the first 22 laps) was caught out and shuffled to the middle of the pack. He’d made decent progress throughout the afternoon and was lurking in seventh place when he made his final pit stop on Lap 63.
Dixon rejoined the race in 12th place and had no chance of winning without a little assist from the racing gods. He seemed to get just that when Karam (RIGHT) spun on Lap 66 because that meant leader Juan Montoya had to slow, the field packed up and the leaders had to pit under caution — which catapulted the No. 9 Target car to fourth place.
But Karam’s caution actually aided winner Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson and Simon Pagenaud even more because they had pitted before the course went full-course yellow and were ahead of Dixon.
And it wound up hurting Montoya, who finished 12th and watched his lead in the point race shrink to nine over Rahal with two races remaining.
NBCSN analyst and Indy 500 veteran Townsend Bell instantly questioned Karam’s awkward entry and spin on air and said afterwards: “If that was an Indy Lights driver on his first out lap on his first test day you’d look at that and say, oh he’s over his head. Not for a guy 70 laps into a race.”
Karam claimed: “I was adjusting my brake bias and missed the apex to the corner and that was it” while Ganassi officials denied any shenanigans to RACER.
But IndyCar’s Race Control was still gathering information and pondering if any action would be necessary on Wednesday when fines are announced. “It certainly has our attention,” chief steward Brian Barnhart said on Monday morning in an email.
A mechanic from another team emailed this writer on Sunday night with this message: “Julian (Robertson of Dixon’s team) came running down to Sage’s pit and told his guys to tell Karam “the gearbox pressure is rising or the gearbox is getting hot” and two laps later he spins out. That’s total B.S. Just like that Clint Bowyer deal in NASCAR a couple years ago.”
It was certainly reminiscent of Bryan Herta’s 30 mph spin at Sonoma in 2006 at Sonoma when teammate Marco Andretti needed a caution (wink wink) and went on to score his initial IndyCar victory.
We’ll have to wait until IndyCar makes the call on Karam’s spin and if any funny business took place. Here’s one thing we know for sure: After pissing off most of the field at Fontana and sending Ed Carpenter into a rage at Iowa, the talented kid from Pennsylvania makes headlines wherever he goes.