“SK$” set for Indy 500 run with Comfort Revolution, Big Machine, Brantley Gilbert

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Sage Karam has an emerging nickname – “SK$” – and now has his partners set for his Indianapolis 500 debut with Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing, in partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Longtime backer Comfort Revolution (Michael Fux) and Big Machine Records (Scott Borchetta), which have paired up with Karam and CGR at the first two TUDOR United SportsCar Championship races in Daytona and Sebring, will serve as co-primary sponsors of Karam’s No. 22 Chevrolet.

Additionally, Big Machine Label Group artist Brantley Gilbert will serve as a sponsor as well, to promote his new album, “Just As I Am,” that is released May 19. Gilbert, like Kurt Busch, was announced to do the Indianapolis-Charlotte double on Memorial Day Sunday, May 25. Gilbert will be with Karam at Indy, then will make a quick trip to Charlotte for the Coke 600 where he will perform the pre-race concert at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Gilbert is the 2013 Academy of Country Music (ACM) New Male Artist.

Gilbert will also be featured in some fashion across the stable of the remaining four Verizon IndyCar Series CGR entries and the No. 42 Eneos Chevrolet SS in the History 300 Nationwide race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Fux, CEO of Comfort Revolution, “I’m very excited to see Sage drive in the Indianapolis 500. Sage is an excellent driver, totally fearless and has great natural ability. With the Indianapolis 500 being his first race in an Indy car, nobody will expect him to do well……but I think he is going to surprise everybody. I’ve been watching him since he was 13 years old and have always been very impressed with his skill set. Seeing him reach this step on the INDYCAR ladder is very exciting. I can’t wait to watch him.”

Karam, who completed Phase 1 of his Rookie Orientation Program this morning, offered a mature beyond his years quote to describe the feeling of turning his first laps at the Speedway in an IndyCar.

“Crossing the bricks… is like an exclamation point of how you got there,” he said. “I came here with my dad when I was 9 or 10. Seeing the Pagoda and everything, I wanted to win this race so bad. Now that this is a reality, to have the opportunity to qualify is an extremely satisfying experience.”

See two pictures of Karam’s car below, via The Set-Up Sheet founder Steve Wittich (top) and Indianapolis Star entertainment writer Dave Lindquist.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.