Sage takes WIX Filters car to 222.031, JR clocks 219.859 in Salesforce Mount
SPEEDWAY, Ind. (August 12, 2020) – It has been 14 and a half months since the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team last competed on the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.5-mile oval as drivers Sage Karam and J.R. Hildebrand made their return to the “Brickyard” Wednesday in the first round of practice run for the 104th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race set for Sunday, August 23.
The layoff and the new aeroscreen on the Chevrolet-powered Dallara race cars was going to make a difference on the IMS oval track and the DRR engineering staff and their drivers were prepared for Wednesday’s first practice sessions.
With a top track temperature reaching 117 degrees and the typical Indiana summer humidity, the first day conditions really were not as bad as predicted. Of course, losing Tuesday’s practice day made everything on track additionally important as qualifications begin this Saturday (Aug. 15).
For Karam, the 25-year-old from Nazareth, Pa., he was excited for his return to IMS in his seventh appearance for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Sage drove the No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet in 89 laps total on Wednesday with a best speed of 222.031 miles per hour. The former Indy Lights champion focused on race setup in traffic much of the afternoon. The WIX Filters crew also stopped some 35 minutes early as they found the direction with the car they were seeking.
Hildebrand, the Boulder, Colo, veteran driver, returns to IMS with his popular No. 67 DRR Salesforce Chevrolet as the former Indy 500 “Rookie of the Year” clocked 77 laps Wednesday with a top speed of 219.859 m.p.h. The California native and his DRR Salesforce crew breezed through his “refresher” speed session and moved on to adjustments with the car. The practice was the first for J.R. with the all-new aeroscreen on his mount. Like Karam, Hildebrand pulled his machine into the garages early during practice runs and the DRR crew continued to make additional adjustments.
Karam and Hildebrand will be ready to go at 11 a.m. EDT Thursday when the second day of practice begins at IMS. The Thursday session will conclude at 5:30 p.m. EDT.
SAGE KARAM, #24 DRR WIX FILTERS CHEVROLET:
“Today was pretty good for our DRR WIX Filters Chevy today. It was much more solid than last year on the first day of practice. We did a lot of good things today as I did a lot of traffic running. We got in some big groups and went with the good teams like Penske, Ganassi and Andretti. No one was doing anything different from what I could do in traffic. That was very positive. Now we have to find the next step with mechanical grip to move to the next level with this car. Obviously, passing will be very tough, just like last year. Qualifying will be at a premium. Pit stops will be huge, but this DRR crew is always fast on their stops. So, I feel good about that aspect. It feels good to be back on the oval. The road course was a good, little challenge for us. It was good for everyone today. Me to get more seat time and the team to get in a few live stops. It is so much fun around this place when the car is working well. We look forward to Thursday.”
JR HILDEBRAND, #67 DRR SALESFORCE CHEVROLET:
“I felt good with the aeroscreen right away. Sitting in the pits you can tell it’s a little warmer, but not once you are on track it’s no problem. I felt good in the car. Our DRR team came into this year with a clear perspective with what we needed to do to be competitive in the race. And what we have done so far with our adjustments to the car have checked out. That is good so far. We were focused on trying to answer some of those questions from the last couple of years. Sage (Karam, DRR teammate) worked in traffic more today than we did. He was running in more traffic situations than I was. We don’t have a lot of time this year. And we are moving the right direction with the cars already. Thursday will be a very busy day. So, we are prepared to work hard with the cars.”