Karam Posts 226.419 MPH Wednesday in
Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet in Practice Runs
Young star hosts NHRA drag racers in DRR-Kingdom Racing Garage too
SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 18, 2016) – After Tuesday’s rain out of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sage Karam and the other 32 Indy 500 entrants were anxious to hit the famed 2.5-mile oval Wednesday with sunny skies for the six-hour Indianapolis 500 practice session.
Karam, 21, jumped back into his No. 24 Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet and recorded 91 laps Wednesday with a best speed of 226.419 miles per hour. The youngest racer in the 33-driver field worked closely with head engineer Jeff Britton and chief mechanic Brian Goslee on a solid race setup for the Dallara chassis and Sage was pleased with the progress in the second day of practice.
Driving in traffic, Karam jumped to fourth in the speed charts in the middle of the afternoon as the Gas Monkey Energy crew worked diligently through its checklist of chassis and wing settings Wednesday. With the wind coming from the east, track conditions proved to be tricky at times, but Karam was able to pass several drivers in key positions on the racing surface. Karam’s speed was eighth fastest at the end of the day.
“It was a pretty good day, a productive day for the No. 24 Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet,” said Karam, whose entered in his third Indy 500. “We ran a lot more laps today than we did Monday, and it’s good to be out there just feeling the car out. We just worked on race setup today, I think we ended the day P8, so we’re really pleased with that. The car is pretty good in traffic, it’s a lot harder to pass this year compared to years prior, but it looks like that for everyone, not just us. But we seem to be on the better end of getting passes done to other people, so I’d say we have a good race car right now. We just have to keep chipping away at it, keep working at it. We still have a couple more practice days here, and I’m excited to see where we can go with this race car. It’s all about being able to get close to the guy in front of you in the corner and staying flat on the throttle, and that’s how passing is going to get done. It looks like everyone’s struggling with that right now, so hopefully we can eliminate some of those issues and we’ll be good from there.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2014 Indy 500 winner, clocked the best speed of the day ay 228.202 m.p.h.
In the morning, Karam welcomed three NHRA professional drag racers from the Don Schumacher Racing stable when he showed Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel), Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car) the insides of his Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet IndyCar. Pritchett and Langdon actually sat in Sage’s machine and listened closely as Karam talked about the various knobs and buttons on the IndyCar’s steering wheel.
“It’s always really cool meeting other people from different forms of motorsport,” said Karam. “It is way different, what they drive, compared to what I drive, but at the same time there are a lot of similarities and it’s cool hearing what they have to say. I’ve never sat in an NHRA car before, but I would like to. Hopefully I can get down to Englishtown and see these guys race there, get to experience what NHRA racing is all about, and get to see what all those similarities and differences in my own eyes.
“They all asked about the steering wheel, and I feel like a lot of the fans ask about the steering wheel, because it’s so different from a street car and even other forms of motorsport compared to an IndyCar. It’s so complex because you’re pushing those buttons every lap and even multiple times a lap, and a lot of people are really intrigued by that and they had a lot of questions about that. It was a lot of fun just having them here, getting to see what they see out of the cockpit, and I can’t wait to see them drive soon.”
Pritchett, a Top Fuel winner at Phoenix earlier this year, raced in a Formula Ford last year and enjoyed talking open-wheel racing with the young driver.
“First of all, Sage is really down to earth and he seems like a really cool guy,” said Prtichett, one of two female Top Fuel racers to win this year (Brittany Force is the other).”He’s very humble, and speaking on his experiences, I think I can relate just a tiny bit from running a vintage Formula Ford a handful of times. But I’m really impressed with the driver input that they have, and what they’re able to do with the car and be in tune from a weight transfer standpoint, and boost and control. He’s really in tune with where his eyesight and levels need to be in regards to what he needs to see on the track: his apex points and turning points. Overall, there’s a huge spectrum back and forth. Pure speed in such a small amount of time as opposed the longevity of being at your tip-top performance for Sage, doing that for a long amount of time is really incredible. Something that is very similar between our professions is how important the comfort of the car is to the driver. So we sit in the car under power for a run time of a minute and 20 seconds or so from the time we start it up. But sometimes we sit in the car for up to an hour, and you can fatigued and stuff like that, where as here, the steering wheel is very important, everything has to be in a comfortable, natural position to be able to be efficient for that long a period of time. So as a driver, no matter what discipline of motorsports you’re in, you really need to know yourself, you really need to know your race car, and nobody can tell you how you feel in a car but yourself, which really takes experience and time, and that’s some of the stuff we talked about.
“I would love to drive an IndyCar. However, I have a huge amount of respect for speed, and other people’s equipment, but I would definitely entertain that possibility, especially since I grew a love for it with the small amount of road course racing I have done. I’m definitely no professional at it, but if I think I had the opportunity to hone some skills, but these are true professionals out here who have dedicated their lives to this. I don’t think I could hold a candle to them by any means. But it’d be fun, there’s no doubt about it, and for now I’m just gonna look on and watch and cheer for Sage this month.”
Karam and his Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing team will continue its pre-qualifying runs Thursday with another 12 to 6 p.m.session scheduled. Indy 500 qualifications are set for Saturday, May 21, and Sunday, May 22. The prestigious 100th 500-mile classic will start at 12:15 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 29.