Quickest throughout most of pre-race testing, Sage Karam – currently the hottest driver in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear – scored his second pole of the season with a lap of 1:15.707 (116.930 mph) around the 10-turn, 2.4-mile road course at Mosport International Raceway. He set the quick time on lap 5 of the 45-minute session.
Karam, driving the No. 88 Andretti Autosport / MAZDASPEED / Comfort Revolution Mazda, has won two races so far, back-to-back victories In rounds 4 & 5 on the ovals at Milwaukee and Iowa Speedway, where he also started from the pole. The 16 year-old driver from Nazareth, PA won the 2010 USF2000 championship and is the 2011 Mazda Road to Indy scholarship driver in Star Mazda.
“It's great to qualify P1 again" said Karam, who is currently 2nd in the championship battle. "The whole team is starting to get comfortable with the car, and I'm really happy with the way the No. 88 MAZDASPEED/Comfort Revolution car is running on the road course here at Mosport. With how we struggled earlier in the season on the road courses, it feels great to get the pole. We're only seven points back in the championship, so hopefully we can carry this momentum into the race and get a win.”
Starting next to Karam from the outside of the front row will be Californian Connor De Phillippi, the other two-race winner so far this season (Round 1 at St. Pete and Round 3 on the Lucas Oil Raceway oval). De Phillippi, who was the 2009 Skip Barber Pro Series champion and 2010 Mazda Road to Indy scholarship driver, turned a lap of 1:15.782 (116.814 mph) in his Team Pelfrey / Justice Brothers Products / Trademark Garage Floors Mazda. Currently 3rd in the championship, he is looking to recover from a pair of difficult races where he finished 6th at Milwaukee and 11th at Iowa Speedway.
Starting from inside the second row will be French racer and current championship points leader Tristan Vautier, who turned a lap of 1:15.862 (116.691 mph) in the No. 5 JDC Motorsports / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda. Vautier, who came to the U.S. with substantial experience in European open-wheel racing, has scored only one victory so far this season, from the pole in Round 2 at Barber Motorsports Park. He has remained in the championship lead with a podium in the season-opener and trio of 4th-place finishes in the last three races while his competitors all experienced difficulties at one or more events along the way.
On the outside of the second row, in the 4th starting spot, will be De Phillippi's Team Pelfrey teammate, Nick Andries. The racer from St. Petersburg, FL turned a lap of 1:15.863 (116.689 mph) in the No. 81 Team Pelfrey / Lithionics Battery / GS610 Brake Fluid / Trademark Garage Floors Mazda. Andries, with three back-to-back podium finishes in Rounds 2,3 and 4 – but also a 16th in Round 1 and 7th at Round 5, is currently 4th in the championship.
Rounding out the top-5 in qualifying is Brazilian driver J.V. Horto, the last racer with a time in the 15s… a 1:15.961 (116.539 mph). He finished on the podium in Round 5, has top-5 finishes in Rounds 2 and 3 and is currently 6th in the championship. All five of the top qualifiers are separated by just 2/10ths of a second, and the top-8 are within 7/10ths, guaranteeing an exciting start to tomorrow's race.
The quickest driver in the Expert Series for racers 30 and older was Walt Bowlin, who qualified 13th on the grid with a lap of 1:20.387 (110.112 mph) in his No. 23 AIM Autosport / Tampa Bay Jaw Surgery Mazda.