Sage Karam spent most of last week venting anger and frustration in helpful ways. It was screams and shouts, in as secluded a setting as possible, to manage the mounting disappointment found with his No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Chevy.
Consistently slow in practice and during the first day of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, it took summoning steely determination on Sunday morning to deliver for the spirited Indy-only team. Fastest among the Last Row Shootout performers, the 2014 Indy Lights champion secured his sixth invitation to compete in the race after turning a 227.740 mph average to take 31st on the grid.
“We haven’t had a lot of good days this [past] week,” the 24-year-old Pennsylvanian said on Sunday. “And the team has stuck with me, and they have picked me up when I was down. And vice 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’s better in those six minutes at that time.
“We didn’t have it yesterday [Saturday]. 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.”
Facing full-time teams in Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Carlin Racing in the hair-raising shootout, plus McLaren, Karam loved all that his little DRR outfit achieved.
“You look at the guys in the last chance six now,” he said. “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.”