DREYER - Pole Day Notes



Sage records 228 in morning practice, then runs fastest in Last Row Shootout


SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 19, 2019) – The Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team thought they had enough last- minute drama Saturday when J.R. Hildebrand took the No. 48 DRR Salesforce Chevrolet Dallara into the 33-car Indianapolis 500 field late in qualifications, but the Carmel, Ind.,-based “one off” squad suffered through more late day dramatics Sunday with young Sage Karam and the No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet Dallara.

Karam, the 24-year-old Nazareth, Pa., racer, was seeking his sixth start in the world’s most famous race set for next Sunday, May 26, at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but the “Hard Charger of the 2014 Indy 500” had to come back Sunday for a shot of qualifying his mount in the last three positions in next Sunday’s starting lineup. Karam had been bumped from the top 30 spots late on Saturday.

In Sunday’s morning practice, Sage demonstrated that his Chevrolet-powered car could run a strong speed with a 228.083 miles per hour lap. However, shortly after those practice runs, rainstorms hit the IMS oval for some four hours before track officials could begin drying out the 2.5-mile oval.

Finally, at 4:30 p.m. EDT, the six participants were able to compete for the final three positions in the 103rd “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” After James Hinchcliffe (227.543 mph), Max Chilton (226.192) and former F1 world champion Fernando Alonso (227.353) qualified, Karam had his four-lap chance to make the Indy 500 field.

And Karam didn’t disappoint with a stellar performance after a tough week at attempting to get speed in qualifying trim. Sage has always been fast in the race but qualifying had been difficult. But Sunday afternoon, the youngster secured his sixth Indy 500 start with a brilliant run to post the best four-lap speed of the six drivers seeking a Last Row position.

Karam clocked laps of 228.501, 227.764, 227.499, 227.201 for an average of 227.740 m.p.h. Had he recorded that speed on Saturday, he would be starting in eighth row for Sunday’s 200-lap classic.

But Sage knows that Indy can throw you curveballs and he was ready when the time was right Sunday.

Karam will start in the 31st position alongside James Hinchcliffe (227.543) and Kyle Kaiser (227.372).

With Karam starting 31st, it is the same spot he began his rookie race in 2014 when he drove to ninth to earn the prestigious “Hard Charger Award” that year in the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car.

For the DRR drivers, Hildebrand will start 21st and Karam 31st when the green flag falls at 12:15 p.m. EDT this coming Sunday for the 103rd Indy 500. The event will be shown live on NBC.

“We haven’t had a lot of good days this week,” said Karam after his qualification run. “And the team has stuck with me and they have picked me up when I was down. And visa versa. I had a wrestling coach tell me that it doesn’t matter who you are wrestling, the rank, the bracket or anything. It’s all about who is better in those six minutes at that time. We didn’t have it yesterday. But I knew that we just needed to be better than the guys who we were up against today for four laps. I feel like I won the race and I just qualified for it. I was so happy to get this thing in today. I didn’t want to go another sleepless night and be thinking about it.

“You look at the guys in the last chance six now. There were big names and big teams. We’re a strong one-off race team. And we knew it was not going to be an easy task. I wish I could have run those four laps yesterday. We would be well up the field. But that how Indy works. There are so many doubts at this place. When you can do something special, it really feels great. I had some doubts in the last couple of days. But today really shows that the DRR WIX Filters team has produced when things are on the line. Now, we’ll continue our race setup program on Monday. The race setup is very good. I am confident for next Sunday.”

Monday’s two-hour practice session at IMS is scheduled from 12 noon to 2 p.m. followed by drivers attending media day activities on Tuesday. Hildebrand will be participating in events in Louisville, while Karam will be involved Ft. Wayne media shows.

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Tom Beeler

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.

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Volume 2019, Issue 5, Posted 12:07 PM, 05.24.2019