INDIANAPOLIS – The repaved and revised 14-turn Grand Prix road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway may be new to the competitors in Friday’s Brickyard Grand Prix, but the vaunted Brickyard itself is a familiar place to many drivers who will compete in the first event at Indy since the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón combined to form the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Five drivers who competed in the Indianapolis 500 in May will be racing in Friday’s two-hour, 45-minute Brickyard Grand Prix. Jack Hawksworth and Martin Plowman are part of the Prototype Challenge field, along with GT Daytona competitors Townsend Bell and James Davison.
Sage Karam was announced Wednesday as a last-minute replacement for Memo Rojas in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Ford EcoBoost/Riley in the Prototype class.
Of the five, Karam, an Indy 500 rookie, posted the best finish in the race — ninth.
Karam will join Scott Pruett, a perennial contender in the top class, who has raced in four Indy 500s and two Brickyard 400s in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Pruett, who finished second in the Brickyard Grand Prix in both 2012 and 2013, would like nothing better than to win the race, both for himself and for team owner Chip Ganassi, who needs the victory to complete a trifecta that includes his Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 victories.
Pruett has ground to make up in the championship standings. Still feeling the effects of a disappointing run in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Pruett trails DP leaders Jordan and Ricky Taylor by 26 points entering Friday’s race.
A nagging back issue, however, will keep his regular co-driver Rojas out of the race, but Karam, 19, the reigning Indy Lights champion, will be a capable replacement.