INDIANAPOLIS – It’s hard to think of the ninth Indianapolis 500 veteran added to this week’s Brickyard Grand Prix field as any kind of “veteran.”
At 19 years old, Sage Karam hardly qualifies as an old-timer, but the youngster was calm and composed on his way to a ninth-place finish on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval two months ago. Had it not been for another “rookie” (again, a misleading term) named Kurt Busch, Karam would have been the hands-down choice for Indy 500 rookie of the year.
Karam was tabbed earlier this week to replace Memo Rojas alongside Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Telcel Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Ford EcoBoost/Riley Prototype, as Rojas deals with back issues. Karam called it a “no-brainer” when he was asked to fill in by the team, which has signed Karam to a driver development deal. Karam made his TUDOR United SportsCar Championship debut with the team in January in the Rolex 24 At Daytona prior to his memorable Indy 500 drive.
“I drove the oval all month of May,” Karam said about his return to IMS. “I drove Indy Lights here on the oval and I drove Lights around the old road course, but the old road course and the new road course are night-and-day difference. I have to learn this new track and I’m still learning the sports car; I don’t really have a bunch of time in it. It’s like a double whammy learning two for one there.
“I’m used to the IndyCar around here, going the other way and being so smooth and as consistent as you can,” Karam continued. “Whereas now you’re all over the place, passing cars left and right. That’s the fun thing about sports cars, you’ve got slower cars and guys in your class, and you’re always having to be on your ‘A’ game. I love racing this car, I really do.”