|Karam's speedway car at Michigan|
For Sage Karam, the winner of the inaugural INDYCAR iRacing Challenge event at Watkins Glen International, he was too young to ever compete at the fast, two-mile oval of Michigan International Speedway.
But the 25-year-old driver of the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing WIX Filters Chevrolet IndyCar still believes he knows what to expect this Saturday in the next round of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge set 2:30 p.m. EDT on the NBC Sports Network and www.indycar.com.
Some of the wildest and most spectacular oval racing in IndyCar racing history has taken place at the Michigan oval in the real life 55 events (1968-2007). Karam thinks Saturday’s virtual racing event will give the racing fans another sensational wheel-to-wheel contest in the first oval race of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge.
“I never was able to race at Michigan," said the Nazareth, PA racer. “I was too young then. But I did race at Fontana in 2015 and it’s a similar track, a two-mile oval. I got fifth there that year. I think Saturday’s race at MIS will be just like that Fontana race – pack racing. Anybody can win from any starting spot. I don’t think you want to lead until the last lap. Traffic will be heavy, and guys need to play it smart. It will be pretty wild."
Karam, an iRacing regular for over ten years, showed his virtual racing experience in the opening two road circuit events by winning the Watkins Glen International race and pole position and the pole position in the Barber Motorsports Park event. Sage has led 67 of 90 laps in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge thus far.
Now, heading to the MIS oval, Karam changes his philosophy with his race strategy.
|Can Karam school the others on an oval too?|
“In the two oval races, you wanted to be on the pole and lead as many laps as possible," he said. “In the MIS race, it is very open. You can come from the back and win. Pack racing is very tough mentally too. You want to be aggressive but watch how the cars handle. I think you’ll see big packs at the beginning of a tire run. Then as the tires wear down, the handling of the car will be different, and you’ll see more single file racing. I still remember that Fontana race. It was crazy."
Karam has a good record on various oval tracks in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES action including a third at Iowa Speedway (2015), fifth at California Speedway (2015), ninth in the Indy 500 (2014 as a rookie) plus leading at Pocono International Raceway (2015). In the Road to Indy open-wheel competition, Sage won six races oval races including four at Iowa.
Karam have been practicing on several oval tracks this week in preparation for Saturday’s virtual oval battle, but also laments last week’s run at Barber. He led 24 laps of the 45-lap race, before being knocked out of the event on lap 29.
“I have been able to run a couple of different oval tracks this week," he said. “I have been racing on road courses more recently, so I need to get ready for MIS. I think our DRR WIX Filters Chevy will be strong again. That Barber race was tough to take because we had a car to win. Just didn’t get to the finish. I’d like to get back to the front again this Saturday."