Sage Karam carries Mazda Road to Indy short oval win streak into Milwaukee

1 Comment

In the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, there were few better on short ovals than Sage Karam.

Actually, scratch that. There hasn’t been anyone better.

Karam heads to the next two short ovals on the Verizon IndyCar Series calendar with a win streak to uphold, even though racing the Milwaukee Mile and Iowa Speedway in an IndyCar is a different animal from racing in the junior categories.

Karam swept both Milwaukee and Iowa in Indy Lights in 2013; the former following a pass of longtime rival Zach Veach, and the latter following a fifth-to-first comeback to secure the win.

He won the only short oval in the 2012 Star Mazda season, also at Iowa. In 2011, he won both short ovals at Milwaukee and Iowa in Star Mazda once more.

And for good measure, back in 2010 as a then-15-year-old, he won at Iowa in USF2000. Only in 2010 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis was Karam not on top of the field; Patrick McKenna took the win.

All told, that’s six races in a row on short ovals in the Mazda Road to Indy that Karam won.

Anyway, Karam enters Milwaukee this weekend following the best finish of his brief Verizon IndyCar Series career, fifth at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana two weeks ago.

And the driver of the No. 8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet is as good a sleeper as you’ll find in the field this week.

“I feel more confident than ever heading in to the race in Milwaukee this weekend,” Karam said in an advance release. We got a great result of fifth under our belt at Auto Club Speedway in the last race. It was a career best for me in the series and it felt good.

“We’ve been in a position to run at the front a few times this season and to get it done was a big relief. I know what this team is capable of and I’ve had some success at Milwaukee in the ladder series, so I can’t wait to get back at it.”

In the interim time since Fontana, Karam’s made more waves for a series of shirtless photos posted on social media, and endured some good natured ribbing from his Ganassi teammates.

It follows on from earlier this year, when Karam’s pink “Karamo” got mileage – and jokes – during the month of May in Indianapolis.

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor “It is great for to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”