Sage Karam’s charge from the back row of the grid in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 was brought undone by a pitstop error.
The 25-year-old started 31st in the No.24 Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet, and had climbed to 19th by lap 54. That progress came to an end when he entered pit lane 10 laps later and overshot marker, earning a stop and go penalty for entering the wrong pit box.
“I was able to pass guys in the early part of the race, and I had a very good restart which gave us more spots. So we were moving up,” Karam said.
“The first five or 10 laps of the stints were fast, but then the tires fell off and I couldn’t pass people. Ultimately, I made a mistake on pit lane with our third stop. I don’t know if the tires were worn or the brakes locked, but I slid by our pit box. Then I had to get in reverse and we lost two laps. I got our one lap back and almost the other lap too. And the No.10 car stayed out and it prevented us from getting a wave-around on the next yellow flag. At the end of the race, the WIX Filters Chevy was better, but I didn’t want to ruin other guys’ races and I moved out of their way. We ran out of time trying to get the lap back, because the car could run with guys on the lead lap. The DRR crew did a great job in the pits as always and we just had the one mistake today when I missed the pit. I feel badly for that one. We did learn a lot this month as a ‘one-off’ team at Indy.”
Teammate J.R. Hildebrand, who also started on the back row, struggled with handling problems during the early part of the race, but a combination of strategy and improvements to his No.67 Chevy helped carry him forward to 16th at the finish.
“The car was a huge handful at the beginning of the race,” he said. “I almost spun out on the first lap. It was a bummer because I found some passing lanes in the middle of the fuel stint, but I couldn’t get to those lanes when I wanted to. Unfortunately, the car was twitchy early in the race. And we went for a different fuel strategy, and the boys got the car working better throughout the day. I felt I got the feel of the car better as the race went on. We knew the track temps were going up, and we needed to make adjustments with every pit stop. I was working the trim switches and various items to help the car roll into the corners better. We were good to go to the end on fuel, and we might have picked up some additional spots if others had to pit. But with yellow to the checkered, that didn’t happen.
“I just missed a few of the crashes today. I was dodging a number of incidents. We made the right calls today with our strategy. But we just missed a few things that would have improved our finish. Overall, the DRR guys worked really hard this month and we gained more information when we return.”