Karam reflective, thinking of Wilson family upon heading to Sonoma

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SONOMA, Calif. – While not in a car this weekend, Sage Karam has still made the trip to Sonoma Raceway for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season finale.

Karam lost control of his car while leading last week at Pocono Raceway, and ultimately, tragically, a piece of debris from his car struck Justin Wilson in the head. It left Wilson with a severe head injury, which he ultimately succumbed to on Monday.

The 20-year-old rookie met with the media earlier today. A transcript is below:

THOUGHTS ON THE LOSS OF VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES DRIVER JUSTIN WILSON LAST WEEK AT POCONO NOTE: KARAM WAS INVOLVED IN A SINGLE CAR ACCIDENT AHEAD OF WILSON ON-TRACK AND SUSTAINED AN INJURY TO HIS FOOT: “It’s been a tough week. This isn’t a good week for racing losing such a great guy. I’ve been working with a psychologist this week. I’ve worked with him in the past and he’s really been there for me this week. It’s been tough on me, but the main thing is Justin’s family. I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”

HAVE DETAILS OF THE INCIDENT BEEN DISCERNED: “We looked into the data and did nothing different from the laps before. I was actually in the lead for a few laps so the clean air didn’t catch me by surprise or anything. I made a few adjustments two laps before to give the car a little bit more understeer. Nothing popped out. Nothing on the car broke. I didn’t hit the apron. It was a late corner spin, and when it went it went fast.”

WHAT WAS ADVICE OF PSYCHOLOGIST: “For me, the night time is the worst for me just when you’re sitting there thinking of things. Just getting out of the house and keeping busy is the main thing. I’ve been trying not to spend a lot of alone time, because that’s when I start thinking of things and asking ‘What if?’ ’’

DOES YOUR AGE – 20 YEARS OLD – MAKE A DIFFERENCE: “I think this would be difficult for anyone. It’s just an unfortunate thing.”

HOW THERAPEUTIC IS IT TO BE AT THE RACETRACK: “I had questions about coming to this race whether I needed to or not. But it’s always good to be around the racing family because these are the people who are closest to me and will be able to pick me up when I need to be picked up. Being around my teammates and the crew and all the fans out here has bene good so far.”

WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO COMPETE THIS WEEK: “If I were in a car I would do what Justin would want me to do, which is go out there and be a badass and do what I always do.”

HOW IS YOUR FOOT, WHICH WAS INJURED IN THE CRASH: “It’s just bruised. No broken bones or anything. It’s getting better.”

IS THERE COMFORT IN THE FACT THAT IT WAS SUCH A FLUKE INCIDENT: “I don’t think there’s any comfort in this but it was such a freak accident. It is a tough time, and I’m just hoping his family is able to get through this with me. At night, you’re (in bed) looking at the ceiling and saying, ‘What if I didn’t spin?’ And that’s the toughest thing.”

UNTIL THAT POINT, HOW CONFIDENT WERE YOU ABOUT WINNING: “I was super confident. I was such a zone. The car wasn’t loose the whole race, and that’s why I don’t understand what happened and I’ve looked at the video 100 times. The car was really fast and the crew did a great job. I was bummed that I couldn’t finish the job for them.”

HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO WILSON’S WIDOW, JULIA: “I want to talk with her when the time is right. I have talked with (Wilson’s brother) Stefan at the hospital. He’s been there for me and I’ve been there for him.”

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.