Photo: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Karam: A relaxed mindset coming back to Indy 500 with DRR

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Editor’s note: Sage Karam, 3GT Racing Lexus driver in IMSA, a past Indy Lights and USF2000 champion and Verizon IndyCar Series podium finisher, will file a series of blogs for NBCSports.com this month for a second straight year (2016 archive here). Here’s his first entry, following his shop visit and 2017 seat fit. He’ll run the No. 24 Mecum Auctions Chevrolet for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. 

Hi everyone, this is Sage Karam, driver of the No. 24 Mecum Auctions Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet Indy Car. It’s great to be back with NBCSports.com for the month of May.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about returning to the Indy 500. It’s always tough to sit around and wait for 11 months before you return to the greatest racing facility in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Last week, I was in Indy and was at the DRR shop for my annual seat fitting in the Dallara race car. It’s refreshing to see everyone back in the shop. Every year I come into the shop and see how the crew guys are preparing a strong car for the 500. The seat fitting part was pretty easy. I have the same seat from last year and we just needed to adjust the pedals, steering rack and the steering wheel. I felt very comfortable in the car immediately.

And this year, the No. 24 really looks great. The DRR guys really work hard to get their 500 prepared properly.

I was talking to Dennis (Reinbold, team owner) and Chase (Selman, team manager) this week and saying that I wish I didn’t have to wait a full year to get back to the 500. You think about this race a lot.

Especially when you know you had a fast car last year and we were running up front. We could have had a good result. It just makes you wanting to get your revenge back the next year.

I think seeing the specs for this year and they are similar to 2016. So that is very encouraging since we went from 23rd to fourth, just before the halfway mark. That gives me a lot of confidence coming into this year’s race with a similar DRR setup.

I feel great coming into the 101st Indy 500. If I have a car as good as last year’s race car, I feel I can be in position to win the race. That’s very exciting for me, the sponsors and the whole team.

Photo courtesy of IMSA

Plus, I have been racing sports cars this year in the IMSA series with the 3GT Racing team and the Lexus program. Last year, I was with the Lexus road racing team but we didn’t race the car. So, the Indy 500 was my first race of 2016.

It feels good to have some races under my belt with Lexus this year including the Daytona 24, Sebring, Long Beach and COTA this weekend. I feel that doing those races has made me more relaxed behind the wheel coming to Indy.

Last year, without some racing before, I thought I got too anxious in the 500 when I was towards the front of the field. I really wanted to lead the race. Now, I know you don’t really need to get to the lead so soon. You need to be aggressive, but let the race play out more. It’s 200 laps.

I know I’ll be more relaxed this year coming to the 500. It will be my fourth Indy 500 and I have matured more than the previous years.

Photo: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

I’m so excited to be back with Mecum Auto Auctions at the 2017 Indy 500. It’s funny. I haven’t actually been to one of the Mecum Auctions because of other conflicts. But I watch the show on NBC Sports regularly. I’m a car guy like most people in the Indy 500 garage area.

They do some really cool stuff at those auctions and I plan to go to the one in Indy this month. It looks like a blast. The Indy Mecum show is at the Indiana State Fairgrounds from May 16-20.

A lot of drivers have to work with some sponsors that aren’t too exciting for them. But I can tell you that the Mecum sponsorship gets me very pumped up because of my interest in their cars.

To work with a sponsor which has some very historic and amazing machinery is very cool for me. We want to make sure that our No. 24 Mecum Auctions Chevrolet looks good all month for them too.

People always ask me why we don’t run the Indy Grand Prix (May 12-13) with DRR. And I would like to do it again. But our total concentration is on the Indy 500. Dennis’ family has been a fixture at Indy since the 1920s and 1930s. This race means so much to he and his family. Plus it does to me too. It’s the biggest auto race in the world. So we want to be primed for a good program for the 500.

We want to give the crew a full week of massaging on the car. Plus we could damage the car in the Grand Prix too. I get a little antsy not being in the GP, but I know it’s for the best sitting it out.

As a rookie, I was able to finish but I really didn’t know what I was doing from a racecraft standpoint. I was just driving the car as fast as I could. I look back at it and still shake my head. It’s interesting to see behind the scenes now after three years and going into my fourth this month. I have made mistakes at Indy. I’ve crashed on the first lap. I’ve crashed at the halfway point. I think I know where I need to be and when I need to be there in the race. I want to complete all 200 laps again, and be in position to fight for the win.

This is the most confident I have felt in my time coming to the 500. Because I know we can run up front now. I know the team is capable of winning this race.

I feel we have everything we need to put the No. 24 Mecum Auctions Chevy in victory lane. That would be my dream.



Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean to launch cookbook

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Haas Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean may be one of the sport’s most promising talents on-track, but he also has a burning passion off it: cooking.

Grosjean may have been spent a good part of this year cooking his brakes, but you’ll now be able to cook bakes instead…

F1’s resident foodie is set to release a cookbook alongside wife Marion Jolles in the coming weeks, as announced on his Facebook page.

Grosjean currently sits 13th in the F1 drivers’ championship with 18 points to his name, helping Haas to match the points total from its debut season after just 10 races in 2017.

Mercedes F1 engine chief warns against underestimating Honda

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Mercedes Formula 1 engine chief Andy Cowell has warned against underestimating the threat of Honda despite its ongoing power unit struggles, tipping the Japanese manufacturer to bounce back in the near future.

Honda returned to F1 as a manufacturer in 2015, supplying V6 turbo power units to the McLaren team, but has struggled for either performance or reliability through that period.

The struggles have led McLaren – currently sat bottom of the constructors’ championship – to consider cutting ties for 2018 given how far adrift compared to the other three engine suppliers Honda has been.

Mercedes has been the benchmark for engine performance since the change in regulation for 2014, but Cowell feels that Honda could make up ground quickly, with the removal of the token system for 2017 helping performance to converge through the field.

“I think collectively we’ve helped with convergence in Formula 1 in the opening season, performance development through the year,” Cowell said.

“But then the opportunity to do a big change with Honda coming in, we all agreed that Honda could have that same opportunity to change everything in the first year and then the request came from manufacturers in addition to Honda saying ‘please can we take this crazy token table away because it’s bad for the sport?’

“It’s bad if somebody can’t train to get better and so we agreed, yeah, take the table away because it’s better for the sport because it means that you can innovate, you can introduce whatever you like.

“I think none of us should underestimate the technical prowess of Honda and of McLaren and I think my money is on that combination coming good and coming good pretty quickly. No pressure…”

Williams happy to ‘hold off’ on 2018 F1 driver decision

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Williams is happy to “hold off” on making a decision on its Formula 1 driver line-up for 2018 as it focuses on improving its on-track displays after a tough start to the season.

Williams currently fields Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll, a mix of experience and youth, but has failed to keep up with midfield front-runner Force India through the first half of the year.

Force India sits fourth in the constructors’ championship with more than double the points of Williams, who leads a tight-knit group down to Renault in eighth place, 15 points adrift.

While Stroll looks set to continue with Williams and Massa has hinted he may look to continue through to 2018 despite initially planning to retire at the end of last season, deputy team boss Claire Williams has confirmed that no decision about next year’s line-up will come any time soon.

“There’s a lot of talk already isn’t there, about drivers across the paddock. For us, we’ve decided we’re going to hold off a bit on our driver decision,” Williams said.

“We’ve got a fight on our hands on the race track at the moment and to be distracted by those kinds of conversations isn’t something that we want to be happening at the moment.

“[Force India’s] got a nice points haul on us at the moment we need to focus on, rather than anything else.”

Nico Rosberg visits Stanford University, considering study options

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2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg is considering study options at Stanford University after visiting the college earlier this week as part of his tour around California.

Rosberg sensationally announced his retirement from F1 just five days after winning his maiden world title last November, wanting to spend more time with his young family.

The German has been enjoying his retirement, recently embarking on a tour of Silicon Valley and California that saw him hold meetings with electric car giant Tesla, among other companies.

In a video posted to his Twitter account on Sunday, Rosberg spoke warmly about a visit to Stanford, revealing that he is considering some study options in the near future at the historic institution.

Rosberg was previously offered a scholarship to study engineering at Imperial College London when he was younger, only to turn it down in order to embark on a racing career. He also reportedly holds the highest ever score on Williams’ engineering aptitude test.

Should Nico sign up to a course at Stanford, we imagine he’d take things one class at a time…