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!”