Starting from the pole for the third time in three years, Andretti Autosport driver Sage Karam completed his Iowa hat trick with a flag-to-flag run in his Andretti Autosport/Comfort Revolution Mazda in Round 6 of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. The race was cut 10 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 4 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 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 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 2 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 USF2000 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 10 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 Team Pelfrey/Mazda Road to Indy Mazda and Gabby Chaves in the JDC Motorsports/COMCEL/Marca Colombia Mazda. Suvanto is the 2011 USF2000 champion and is racing in the Star Mazda Championship with scholarship funding from the Mazda Road to Indy.
De Phillippi, who came to Iowa second in the points, leaves with 139 and the lead. Hawksworth, who had led the championship battle since the first race, is credited with a last-place finish and drops to second with 135 points. Scuncio remains in third with 122 while Karam moves up from sixth to fourth with 117. Chaves sits fifth in the points with 109 and Suvanto is sixth with 105.
The race will air on Velocity at noon Eastern on Saturday, July 28. Iowa was the second of two ovals on the schedule. Following these two ovals in a row is a string of three Canadian races in a row, beginning with the Indy Toronto, followed by Indy Edmonton and then by the GP3R Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, where Star Mazda will share the stage with Indy Lights.