Indianapolis 500 ends early after contact pushes youngster in the wall
SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 29, 2016) – Young Sage Karam put on quite a show Sunday in the 100th Indianapolis 500 with his No. 24 Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet for Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing.
The youngest driver in the 33-driver field at age 21 made a spectacular charge from 23rd to fifth before the halfway point of the 200-lap “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” However, Sage’s race ended on lap 93 as contact with Townsend Bell forced Karam into the outside of the turn one wall.
Karam made a consistent run through the field early in the race including running 15th by lap 23. Sage actually led lap 31 and was getting excellent fuel mileage while climbing up the charts on the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway pylon. Karam was the last to pit for fuel and tires on lap 32.
A fast pit stop by the Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing crew helped Karam advance to 13th by lap 35 and the Nazareth, Pa., former high school wrestling star raced wheel-to-wheel with the likes of former Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon, Will Power, Marco Andretti and last year’s winner Juan Pablo Montoya.
By lap 80, Karam drove into the top ten and then made impressive passes over Dixon for ninth, Tony Kanaan for eighth on lap 84, Helio Castroneves for seventh on lap 85 and Carlos Munoz for sixth on lap 91. Sage made a pass on Bell on lap 92 before the incident in turn one.
According to the finishing order, Karam was awarded the 32nd position in his third Indy 500 start.
Rookie Alexander Rossi became the first rookie since Castroneves in 2001 to win the Indy 500.
“I’m more upset than hurt,” said Karam. “I banged up my right knee a little. But we had a terrific car today. It was so fast. I could drive past everyone I came up to. We started 23rd and I think we were running right at the top five. The Gas Monkey Energy DRR-Kingdom Racing crew worked their tails off. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t put blame on anyone. Just a racing thing. Josef (Newgarden) checked up a bit and Townsend (Bell) and I tried to go wide. We were three wide. I think I had a little nose on Townsend. I’m sure he knew I was there and I thought Townsend would back out of the throttle and I could slide by on the high side.
“This is a hard one for myself and the whole team. We had a fast car and maybe a chance to win the race. I just wish I hadn’t run into turn one side by side. Again, it was another great experience with this team. They gave me a super car for the race. But I’ll be back here again next year. There’s nothing like the Indy 500.”
Karam will now move into the IMSA road racing series later in the year when he partners with sports car legend Scott Pruett and the Rocketsports operation.
Sage Karam feels great to be back in an IndyCar, After 9 months off Indy 500’s youngest driver ready for Sunday
Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing driver starts 23rd in Gas Monkey Energy Chevy
The youngest driver, at age 21, in the 100th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race has been watching from the sidelines for the past nine months following a crash while leading the race at Pocono in August.
It has been long and sometimes frustrated nine months that took time to rethink his racing plan while working out hard for another opportunity and assisting his father, Jody, as a high school wrestling coach. Sage has met with counselors, built his body into its best shape ever and recharged his batteries for another strong performance in 2016.
Karam’s former team owner Dennis Reinbold came to Sage in December with a game plan for the 100th Indy 500. Karam didn’t have a solid program yet for 2016 and Reinbold’s plan with a new and exciting primary sponsor in Gas Monkey Energy gave Sage a shot to win the 100thrunning of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
“I was helping my dad with his wrestling team and working out hard,” said Karam, who’ll start 23rdSunday in the No. 24 Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet for Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing. “Then Dennis called and said he had a great new sponsor and he wanted me in the No. 24 for the 500. I was very exciting for several reasons. First, I was happy to be driving for Dennis’ team again. We had a great run in 2014, my rookie year. We came from 31st to ninth and I won the ‘Hard Charger Award.’
“Secondly, I was a big fan of the Gas Monkey Garage and it’s ‘Fast N Loud’ show on the Discovery Channel. I have been watching the show for several years and thought it was very cool. I was extremely excited to work with Richard Rawlings and his guys at Gas Monkey. So I just couldn’t wait to get into the Gas Monkey Energy machine at IMS.”
But Karam had to wait his turn. He had done some promotional work for Gas Monkey Energy and the Indy 500 but he was chomping at the bit to get into the Chevy-powered IndyCar. Then he had to wait through the Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend too.
“I kept busy that weekend as I worked on the IndyCar Radio Network for the Indy Lights and IndyCar races,” Karam explained. “We did some media interviews and I had pit stop practice with the crew. I knew the time was getting close to jumping back into the driver’s seat.”
On May 16, Karam returned to track for the first time since the August crash at Pocono. The smile on Sage’s face said it all that day. He was back in the cockpit and doing what he loves – driving a race car.
“It was a great feeling and, after a few laps, it felt like I did last August in the race car,” he said. “It was a blast. I love coming to Indy for the 500 and I enjoy working with the Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing guys. We had a good week of practice and we learned a lot about the race car.”
Karam completed 384 laps during the first week of action at the legendary 2.5-mile oval and, following a strong final practice, the Nazareth, Pa., racer has regained his confidence behind the wheel.
“We didn’t qualify (23rd) as well as I had hoped,” admits Sage. “But the car felt great in the final practice session Monday with almost 100 laps (93) and I felt I could drive the car in various spots on the track in hotter conditions. It’s exciting to jump out of your race car after strong performance in the last practice.”
Karam will take the No. 24 Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet to the track Friday in the annual CARB Day one-hour practice round in final preparation for Sunday’s 100th edition of the world’s biggest auto race. In addition, Sage and his crew will participate in the popular Pit Stop Challenge featuring the top pit crews in head-to-head battle in the pit lane.
“We finished second in the Pit Stop Challenge with this team in 2014,” said Karam. “This team is fast on pit stops and I need to hit my marks on Friday in the Challenge and, most importantly, in Sunday’s race. I think we can run to the front in the Indy 500. It’s feels awesome to be back in the car and racing again.”
Sunday’s 100th Indy 500 will be televised nationally on ABC-TV with the green flag set to drop at12:14 p.m. EDT. A sellout crowd will be on hand to witness history in the 200-lap classic.
And Karam hopes to make more history by becoming the youngest winner in Indy 500 history.
Contact: Tom Blattler, Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing, 317-525-5692
Mitch Robinson, Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing, 317-777-0720
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