Over the years, there’s been a lot of potential young, American open-wheel stars – Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson immediately come to mind – who had open-wheel roots but eventually made it big in NASCAR.
Here’s to hoping for IndyCar’s sake that Sage Karam, the 2013 Indy Lights champion, isn’t on that list.
Karam, who starred in his Indianapolis 500 debut and in various sports car races as a Chip Ganassi Racing development driver, visited Ganassi’s NASCAR shop in Charlotte for the first time on Tuesday.
Ganassi has Larson in his rookie year of Sprint Cup and also has Dylan Kwasniewski as a development driver on the NASCAR side.
Although at the moment Karam doesn’t have any additional Verizon IndyCar Series races planned this year – Iowa and/or Milwaukee were mooted in a 1260 WNDE radio interview in early June – he’s still Ganassi’s best IndyCar prospect, especially considering a seat could be opening there in the next two to three years.
Karam, a native of Nazareth, Pa., will not be racing at Pocono this weekend for what would be his home race.
We’re hopeful and optimistic he’ll get at least one more IndyCar race this year, to once again show the potential and flare he displayed at Indy.
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.