DREYER - Carb Day Notes
WARMER TRACK CONDITIONS ON CARB DAY AT IMS FRIDAY
FOR HILDEBRAND & KARAM AND REST OF INDY 500 FIELD
Both DRR Drivers Show Strength in Hotter Temps, Coach Allen Visits
SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 24, 2019) – For the past several years, DRR racer Sage Karam has driven his Chevrolet-powered race car from the back of the Indy 500 field into the top-ten and even top-five, proving the team’s race setups are strong in the 200-lap Classic. And, after Friday’s Carb Day practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, that could be the case again in Sunday’s 103rd Indy 500.
Warmer air temperature (82 degrees) and track surface (106 degrees) can always throw a curve at the crews and drivers as they prepare for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” However, Karam and his DRR teammate J.R. Hildebrand felt their respective mounts would be solid when the green flag drops at 12:15 p.m. EDT Sunday.
Attempting to pass cars in the warmer conditions has not been easy in recent years but both Karam, in the No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet Dallara, and Hildebrand, in the No. 48 DRR Salesforce Chevrolet Dallara, showed formidable pace Friday at the historic 2.5-mile IMS oval.
Hildebrand, starting 21st in the 33-driver field., completed 44 laps in the 90-minute practice session and jumped out of his car with 20 minutes remaining. The Boulder, Colo., driver clocked a best speed of 222.762 miles per hour.
Karam, coming from the 31st starting spot, turned 41 circuits Friday with a best speed of 222.450 m.p.h.
“We made a couple of changes towards the end of the session that really helped the car,” said Hildebrand. “We need to make a change in our gearing strategy a little. We talked about it ahead of time and today’s runs just confirmed what we were thinking for the race. How fast the cars go through the air is always big deal here. The aero package has changed a bit from last year. We did a lot of race setup running earlier last week that gave a us a good flatform for race trim. It was warmer today and I feel that as the conditions get warmer that plays into when we have been better. We want to get into the playing window that works well with this car. Overall, the DRR guys always have concentrated on the race setup. I could tell that when I was at ECR (Ed Carpenter Racing) and racing against Sage.”
“We were passing cars today with the hotter conditions,” said Karam. “So that is very good. The conditions were nearly perfect on Monday at the low 60s. Now, we are 20 degrees warmer and the heat definitely affects the cars. Everyone lost an overall level of grip and the cars slide a bit more. I never saw anyone drive around me. So, I like that aspect. We had a slight vibration that we’ll work on now. We are not sure where than comes from right now. Hey, every year I have to come from behind at Indy and I think we can do it again on Sunday. It won’t be easy to pass in the hotter conditions. We have a great pit crew who always makes up spots in the pits. I think that can play a big factor Sunday. We are in the first pit box off of turn four and that can help get me in the pits quickly. We want to get to that checkered flag this year.”
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing also hosted the Indiana University Head Football Coach Tom Allen and his staff today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The coaching staff and their families had a tour of the DRR garages in Gasoline Alley and talked with team owner Dennis Reinbold and Hildebrand and Karam. Reinbold also presented a racing helmet to Allen with signatures from the entire two-car team this year.
Allen also had the opportunity to stand on the Hildebrand Salesforce team pit box and listening to the communication between the crew and the driver.
“I really want to thank the entire Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team for its tremendous hospitality,” said Allen. “We also came to IMS last year on Carb Day and first learned about the inner workings of an Indy 500 team. It is much like a football team. People really don’t know all of the behind the scenes activity with a racing team. And then listening to radio communication in the pits is very similar to our football radio chatter during an IU game. I wish Sage and JR all the best in Sunday’s Indy 500.”
In the Pit Stop Challenge Friday, Karam and his DRR WIX Filters crew advance to the first round with a victory over Oriol Servia, 12.881 seconds to 13.338. In the quarter finals, Karam and his squad lost to current NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon and his CGR team, 13.935 to 14.550.
One of the highlights of the race week events is the annual and popular Last Row Party in the IMS Pagoda Thursday evening where Karam was a participant with James Hinchcliffe and Kyle Kaiser. A big turnout of fans greeted the Last Row Society with a tremendous applause.
Saturday’s activities for the Indy 500 will include a one-hour autograph session at 9 a.m. followed by the public driver’s meeting at 10:25 a.m. and the IPL 500 Festival Parade at noon in downtown Indianapolis.
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Tom has been a contributor to RIS since 1992, and has covered IndyCar, Formula 1, NASCAR, Grand-Am, ALMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition to his RIS work, Tom has been a contributor for General Motors, Nissan, Toyota and the ACO.