IndyCar: Karam, Saavedra to split Ganassi’s No. 8 car for season

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File this one under the “we didn’t see this coming” department – past Indy Lights champion and Chip Ganassi Racing development driver Sage Karam and several-year Verizon IndyCar Series veteran Sebastian Saavedra will split the No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet for the remainder of the season.

Both will race at the Indianapolis 500, with Saavedra in a fifth car “overseen by CGRT,” per a team release, not necessarily under the CGRT banner (essentially, what Karam’s Dreyer & Reinbold/Kingdom Racing entry was last year).

The pair lined up 31st and 32nd in last year’s Indianapolis 500, the only IndyCar race thus far that has featured both of them.

The release is below:

Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (CGRT) unveiled its upcoming plans today for the No. 8 Chevrolet entry in the Verizon IndyCar Series, which includes races for both CGRT development driver Sage Karam and team newcomer Sebastian Saavedra– who will pilot the No. 8 AFS Chevrolet at this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Saavedra will be backed by AFS Racing/Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., one of the western states largest full service fire sprinkler companies, for the races in Long Beach, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Sonoma, with an additional race at the Indianapolis 500 through a fifth entry overseen by CGRT.

After starts in St. Petersburg and New Orleans this season for CGRT, Karam will rejoin the team in the No. 8 Chevrolet for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and the Indianapolis 500, and is scheduled to run the balance of the season until Sonoma.

“I’m grateful to Chip and the team for their ongoing commitment to me, and I can’t wait to get back in the car at Barber,” Karam said. “I just take things one day at a time and nothing has really changed for me since I started as a development driver here– when Chip calls, I’m ready to go race.”

“It’s good to be back in the Verizon IndyCar Series,” Saavedra said. “This is an amazing opportunity for me with AFS to work with one of the most prestigious teams in all of racing. I’m very grateful to Chip and the team, which have had an incredible history in the sport, and specifically in the Indianapolis 500. I’m looking forward to Long Beach and doing everything I can to help get the No. 8 car to the front.”

“We’ve been committed to Sage and to running the No. 8 car in the full Verizon IndyCar Series season since day one, and this plan reflects our continued investment in the series and in the team,” Ganassi said. “Sage continues to grow his race craft in his development role with us, and we look forward to having both he and Sebastian contribute to the No. 8 team moving forward this season.”

“I’m excited about this coming together quickly with the Ganassi No. 8 entry,” Peterson said. “It looks to be a great alignment between AFS Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and Sebastian Saavedra. My heart has always been in racing and it will be great to see Sebastian have the chance he deserves with a great team. With the opportunities being limited for AFS, we had planned to sit this season out until this fantastic opportunity!”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, points

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

POINTS: Standings after Rolex 24 at Daytona l Michelin Endurance Cup standings l Daytona endurance points

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.