Sunday afternoon practice pleases DRR drivers in preparation for Indy 500
SPEEDWAY, Ind. (August 16, 2020) – J.R. Hildebrand and Sage Karam will admit that Saturday’s qualifying performances by the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing duo at the Indianpolis Motor Speedway for the 104th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race were not something they were not thrilled about.
The former Indy Lights champions quickly changed their attitudes Sunday afternoon in the final round of Indy 500 practice at the historic 2.5-mile oval track with solid runs in their cars’ race trim. Karam will start 31st and Hildebrand 32nd in the 200-lap racing classis next Sunday, August 23.
Hildebrand, the 2011 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year from Boulder, Colo., rolled out in his No. 67 DRR Salesforce Chevrolet Dallara machine Sunday in impressive style with solid full tank runs recording 73 laps and best speed of 221.852 miles per hour. The California native worked hard with engineer Erik Petersen, crew chief Dave Sharpley and the entire DRR crew to find a proper direction for their race car as the Indy 500 on August 23 approaches. And JR says the team definitely find that direction on Sunday afternoon.
The same holds for Karam, the 25-year-old driver from Nazareth, Pa., came back Sunday afternoon in his No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet Dallara with excellent drives through the large groups of cars in the practice. Sage says he felt more comfortable in race car Sunday than he has in the past two years at IMS and credits engineer Jeff Britton, crew chief Pat Nelson and his WIX Filters team for the improvements. Sage clocked in 91 laps Sunday with top speed of 220.826 m.p.h.
Qualifying for the ‘Fast Nine” and the coveted pole position was held Sunday with Marco Andretti claiming the top spot with a 231.068 m.p.h. four-lap average. Marco’s pole was the first Andretti Indy 500 pole since his grandfather Mario captured the No. 1 qualifying slot in 1987.
The 104th Indy 500 is set to start Sunday, August 23, at 2:30 p.m. and will be shown live on NBC-TV.
The famed “Carb Day” practice runs take place on Friday, August 21, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT.
JR HILDEBRAND, No. 67 DRR SALESFORCE CHEVROLET
“We crunched hard trying to figure out how to take some bigger sweeps at the setups today. And the guys definitely did a good job at it. Right out of the box the car was definitely an improvement from earlier in the week. We made some good changes in race trim. We could get in a pack of cars and feel racey. It felt very good on full fuel and new tires. We have much more of a direction for the race setup and we’ll work hard on Carb Day too. We’ll use all two hours on Friday to get prepared. For us, it’s all a test session until the green flag drops next Sunday. We had some impressive pit stops today too with our practice stops. I wouldn’t expect anything less out of these guys. We are trying everything to move up. Working on in laps, out laps, pit stops, etc.”
SAGE KARAM, No. 24 DRR WIX FILTERS CHEVROLET
“We basically did a lot of traffic running today. We made a lot of overnight changes from the qualifying car as well as working with the data we gather earlier in the week. We took giant leaps forward today. I was much more comfortable around here today than I have been here in the last two years. I think we have a good long run car too. As the run goes, we get stronger as others fall off. I was able to pass some cars today. We haven’t been able to do that much earlier. We did good practice pit stops today. It was good for me to charge the cones at pit entry and get settled in on that entry. We didn’t go for speed, just being comfortable in a big train of cars. I hope the weather stays the same on race day because our car feels very good right now. The DRR guys always give us good cars for the race. I think there were a lot of cars sliding around this afternoon, but our cars were solid.”