YOUNG SAGE KARAM RETURNS TO INDY WITH A NEW CALMER PERSONA;
ENTERS 5TH INDY 500 WITH A NEW ATTITUDE IN WIX® FILTERS/DRR CHEVROLET
Former Indy Lights Champ Ready to Team with Hildebrand in May 27 Classic
SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 9, 2018) – It’s hard to imagine that young Sage Karam is entering his fifth Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 27 and he just turned 23 years old.
Driving the No. 24 WIX Filters Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet this month, Karam is still one of the youngest racers in the 35-driver lineup for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” But the former Indy Lights and USF2000 series champion from Nazareth, Pa., has become a veteran at the legendary two-and-a-half mile oval.
Karam might admit his youthful exuberance has gotten the better of him in recent Indy 500 performances, but Sage’s attitude has changed for the 102nd running of the world’s biggest motorsports event.
“I seem more relaxed and calmer this year coming to Indy,” said Karam. “So, I’m always excited to come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but, this time, I’m coming into the month of May with the thinking of a veteran. This year, I have a teammate in J.R. (Hildebrand in the No. 66 Salesforce/DRR Chevrolet) and we believe we can work together to develop a good car for the race. The last few years we have been a single-car effort. Now, with two cars, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing has put together a strong group to battle for the win.”
Karam, who drove in his first Indy 500 after turning age 19, made a sensational “rookie” drive from 31st to ninth in the 2014 race for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and was named “Hard Charger” of the event. In 2016, Sage came from 23rd to fourth before the halfway point of the 200-lap classic before a mishap took him out of the action. Last year, he went from 21st to tenth but retiring with a mechanical issue.
“I have had some good runs at Indianapolis with DRR and their cars are always great in the race,” Karam explained. “I know that is one of the reasons J.R. came over to the team this year. He said he couldn’t keep up with me in the last few races. We need to get to the finish this year. If we can get the new (race car) body kit working like the last one, I feel confident about our chances.”
Karam’s much more relaxed attitude has impressed his DRR crew and especially team owner Dennis Reinbold, who grew up only a mile or so from IMS and has seen many talent drivers at the famed Brickyard.
“From the first race in 2014 with our team, you knew Sage had sensational talent,” said Reinbold, who has entered and qualified 37 entries at Indy as a team owner. “And we also knew he was young and too aggressive at times. I see a different young driver coming to Indy this year. Sage has worked very well with our engineering staff (led by veteran Jeff Britton) and our crew for the past few years, and the race performance has shown that. We have had the speed most of the time and Sage has moved to the front. Now, he shows that he is a calculated young driver who has the experience to race with the leaders. With Sage and J.R., I’m excited about this combination this year in the 500.”
Hildebrand, who enters his eighth Indy 500 this year, has seen the progression of Karam with the DRR team the last few years as well.
“Sage has done a pretty job on his own for the past few years,” J.R. said. “You can see from a distance that he has gone through a learning process too. Sage has shown that he can perform and, when things come together for him with a good race car, that he can go very fast.
The DRR cars have been super quick in the past few years at Indy. At ECR the last few years, we have been staring down those guys just as much as the Penske guys when it comes to the 500 to figure who we had to beat in the Chevy camp.
“I can see from the outside that the Dreyer & Reinbold guys were doing some things different. There were situations on race day when I got blown off by Sage at some point and there was no way I was going to hang on with him. I’m looking forward to working with Sage. I think it is a good fit.”
Karam and Hildebrand hit the IMS oval for official practice runs on Tuesday, May 15. Qualifying for the 102nd running of the Indy 500 is set for Saturday, May 19, and Sunday, May 20. The start for this year’s Indianapolis 500-Mile Race is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 27.
Source: Team PR