Young Sage Karam drove from 31st on the starting grid to finish a career best seventh in his eighth Indianapolis 500 Sunday in the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing AES Indiana / 500 Festival Chevrolet at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Karam’s performance, which also included leading two laps of 200-lap classic, was the best passing drive of the 105th “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and bettered his 2014 “Rookie” showing when he came from 31st to place ninth and capture the “Hard Charger Award.”
The 26-year-old veteran from Nazareth, PA, worked his way into the top 25 by lap 40 after Stefan Wilson slid through the DRR pit box on lap 32. By lap 50, Karam moved to the 16th spot and showed outstanding speed to compete with the front runners. Great pit work by the DRR crew helped Sage gain additional slots by the halfway point of the race. By lap 173, Karam ran seventh and led two laps on laps 175-76, the first laps led in his Indy 500 career.
Karam battled with Ed Carpenter and Santino Ferrucci for a Top Five position late in the race, but he had to settle for seventh at the checkered flag. Helio Castroneves won his fourth Indy 500 title on Sunday.
“It was a long day, but I feel so good for the DRR team and our sponsors AES Indiana and the 500 Festival,” said Karam. “With about 60 laps to go, my water bottle broke, and I was pretty thirsty at the end. I was looking at pylon each lap at the end and I could see we were getting in the mix. The DRR crew were awesome today on our pit stops. I made a mistake on one stop, but they made it up for me. The crew did an amazing job today and all month. It feels so good to go from 31st to seventh. It even beat my rookie run in 2014. I am so proud of this team. We are a little one-off race team, and we were battling with the big dogs all day. Dennis (Reinbold) has had faith in me and, today, I was able to bring home a good finish at the biggest race in the world. If we can qualify better, I think we can be in the mix for the win at this place. This was the hardest I have driven here in my career. I have been learning this new car each year and today it paid off. I think I drove the most patient ever here at Indy. You made to be that way today. You couldn’t force things. And that was the key today.”