INDIANAPOLIS – The last time Sage Karam was in a Verizon IndyCar Series car, he crashed while leading at his home track at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway. Unfortunately, that crash also cost Justin Wilson his life, as a piece of Karam’s car bounced off the track and hit Wilson in the helmet tragically killing him.
That incident weighed heavily on Karam’s mind, as he seeked out professional help to get through it.
Furthermore, the last time Karam was in a car at Indy, his race ended really before it ever began, as he was involved in a Turn 1, Lap 1 accident with Takuma Sato.
So, it’s safe to say, the 21-year old Pennsylvania native is anxious to get back into the car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week.
“I think everyone remembers you though from your last race and my last race at Pocono I was leading late in the race and I got into the wall,” said Karam ahead of the Month of May. “I want to get rid of that thought and have people say this kid belongs.
“For me, this year’s Indy 500 is unusual because I haven’t driven a race car since last August at Pocono. I’m chomping at the bit to get back in the cockpit and get going. I wanted the time to go fast for May because I want to get in the race car. But, then again, I want to cherish every lap of the month and it can be difficult because you can get caught up in the moment.”
“Even on day one, you can begin thinking ahead about qualifying and the race. So you have to stay calm and go by the teams game plan for each day on the track. We will take it slowly and look at our planner to prepare.”
Despite not racing anything in nine months, Karam feels he’s in the best shape of his life, as he’s used the off time to train with his father Jody.
“I moved back to Nazareth (Pennsylvania) this year and returned working out with my dad. I’m in the best shape of my life. I feel great to be back in an IndyCar for the month of May. I’m just 21, but feel like I can be competitive right now at Indy and run up front.”
Karam sees this race like he did the 2014 ‘500, an audition for something bigger.
“I think every race is an audition and I try my best every time out. In 2014, I came in as a rookie and went from 31st to finish ninth. It was a good showing as a rookie.”
Karam has done really well in his limited starts in the series, as he was up front at Iowa and Fontana last year as well nabbing top fives in both events. Unfortunately, those finishes drew some criticism from his peers by virtue of his aggressive racing.
But, due to not knowing what the future holds, he has to race aggressive as he didn’t know if there’d be another opportunity or not. This year, DRR-Kingdom Racing was the opportunity, as the team got the band back together, as Karam moves from a multi-car Ganassi team, back to a single car entry.
“This year we have just one car and the total focus is with me,” Karam continued. “Every ounce of energy is geared towards me. Last year, I was in a four car team and guys can get pulled in different directions at times but it was a great experience with Ganassi Racing for me. With a one-car team, you get the entire attention on you and the race car.”
So, trying to get the Pocono race and last year’s ‘500 off his mind, as well as having all the attention fully on him while in the best shape of his life makes Karam a darkhorse to win the 100th Running in two weeks.