Sage Karam Takes Conservative Approach with his Indy 500 Return Monday,
As Youngest driver in the 33-driver field post 223.398 MPH Lap
After sitting through GP weekend, Karam was anxious to hit the track in Mecum DDR Chevy
SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 15, 2017) – As the youngest driver in this year’s Indianapolis 500 field, Sage Karam of Nazareth, Pa., was tired of sitting in the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing garage area for the past five days and watching the other IndyCar racer compete in the Indy Grand Prix.
In fact, the 22-year-old former Indy Lights champion admitted he was a little nervous jumping in his No. 24 Mecum Auctions DRR Chevrolet machine Monday afternoon for the opening practice round for the May 28 “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” at the world’s most famous race track, the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I just wanted to get in the car,” said Karam, competing in his fourth Indy 500 this year. “I was really nervous this morning and had a lot of emotions going through me. Once you go through one practice run, all the emotions go away and it feels good to go flat (on the throttle) around here again.”
Karam, who put on his sensational charge last year from 23rd to fourth before contacting the south turn wall on lap 93, recorded 47 laps Monday with a best speed of 223.398 miles per hour, good for 14th in the speed charts.
“The Mecum Auction Dreyer & Reinbold Chevy was pretty good today,” Sage said. “I was pleased with how the day went. Being 14th at the end of the day after not driving (an IndyCar) in nearly a year is pretty respectable. I’m excited. The team worked very hard. We’re building the foundation of what the car is going to be. The car feels very similar to last year’s 500 car and last year I had a rocket ship in the race. I’m feeling good.”
The DRR crew worked through its scheduled “checklist” in Monday’s initial runs at the famed 2.5-mile oval in mid 80s air temperature and close to a 130-degree track surface. The team’s overall theme was to continue working on the car’s race setup on Tuesday.
“It was a good solid day,” said team owner Dennis Reinbold. “We had a good balance in the car where Sage liked it. We got in some situations with traffic and the car responded. We didn’t get as many laps as we would have liked, but we made gains. We were a little conservative today, and we plan to be more aggressive tomorrow. We got through a lot on our checklist today.”
Veteran engineer Jeff Britton expressed the fact that Karam continues to improve his feedback and race craft despite being just 22 years old. Britton, a former winning engineer at Indy, was pleased with the team’s progress Monday.
“I’m very happy with today,” said Britton. “We’re not worried about speed. We were worried about getting him up to speed and comfortable in the car. He’s been out of an IndyCar for about a year now, but he felt confident in the car after the first runs. He went through his feedback well and we made the proper adjustments. You can tell he is in his fourth 500.”
Fellow Nazareth, Pa., resident Marco Andretti led Monday’s practice speeds with a 226.338 m.p.h. laps.
Practice continues Tuesday at IMS with six hours scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. EDT.
Qualifying rounds are set for Saturday (May 20) and Sunday (May 21) with Carb Day (final practice) slated for Friday (May 26). The 101st Indianapolis 500 will begin at 12:15 p.m. EDT on May 28.