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Sage Karam, Dreyer & Reinbold reunite for 2017 Indy 500

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Sage Karam will make his fourth Indianapolis 500 start and third with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in the 101st running of the Memorial Day classic. The full-time driver of the No. 14 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has the month of May open thanks to a break in the IMSA schedule, and so can resume his running with the veteran Indianapolis team led by Dennis Reinbold.

Karam blogged for NBC Sports last year during the month of May, and plans to do so again this year.

The release is below:

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced today that young driving star Sage Karam will return to the team to pilot its No. 24 machine in the world’s biggest auto race, the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, set for Sunday, May 28, at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Karam, the 21-year-old racer from Nazareth, Pa., will enter his fourth Indy 500 in 2017 and his third entry with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing after two impressive drives in 2014 and 2016. The former Firestone Indy Lights and US Formula 2000 series champion drove from 31st position to ninth in his rookie showing in 2014 for the team. Sage won the “Hard Charger Award” in 2014 at age 19.

In last year’s historic 100th Indy 500, Karam put on a dazzling performance as the former high school wrestling star came from his 23rd starting spot to fourth at lap 92 before he was hit by another car. That contact forced Karam into the turn two wall and out of the race.

“We are very pleased to have Sage back with our Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team for the 2017 Indy 500,” said Dennis Reinbold, owner of the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing organization. “We have had two sensational showings at the 500 with Sage in 2014 and 2016. His impressive runs give the team great confidence in returning to the 500 this year. Sage has worked well with the engineering staff and the crew and his approach to the Speedway setups have been outstanding as his speed has shown.”

The Dreyer and Reinbold family has a long history in the Indy 500 dating back to the 1920s with legendary car builder Floyd “Pop” Dreyer. Reinbold, Dreyer’s grandson, has been a car owner in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” since 2000 and has successfully qualified 35 entries in the race. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, a past winner in the Verizon IndyCar Series, has recorded four top-ten finishes in the Indy 500 including fourth in 2012, seventh in 2010, eighth in 2008 and ninth in 2014.

“I’m really excited to be back with Dennis and the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team for the Indianapolis 500 this May,” said Karam. “Trying to win the 500 as a one-off team is certainly a big challenge, but I’m confident in this team and their ability to field a race car that can win this race. I’ll be working with the same engineers and the same pit crew from the last two races at Indy with DRR and I trust that we can build upon that continuity and ride that momentum to the double checkers and into Victory Lane.”

Following the 101st Indy 500, Karam will return to his full-time job competing with 3GT Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship, where Sage competes with co-driver Scott Pruett in a Lexus RCF GT3 GTD sports car.

In addition, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will be making upcoming sponsorship announcements for the 101st Indianapolis 500 in the near future.

Karam and the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Special will take their first official 2017 Indy 500 practice laps Monday, May 15, with qualifications scheduled for Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21. The 101st 500-mile classic will start at 12:15 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 28.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.