Sage Karam may not be driving in the Verizon IndyCar Series full-time this year, but he will return to his former team for one race. Karam has reached an agreement with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing to drive for them in the Indianapolis 500, as announced by IndyCar via press release on Friday.
Karam made his IndyCar debut driving an Indy 500-only entry for DRR two years ago. He then signed with Chip Ganassi Racing to co-drive their No. 8 car for the 2015 season, but was released in December following a mixed season that was marred by debris from Karam’s car striking Justin Wilson – ultimately leading to the Andretti driver’s death.
But now he’s back with the team that first got him into the league.
“I’m really thrilled to be associated with Gas Monkey Garage for the 100th Indy 500,” said Karam, who will run the No. 24 car for DRR on Memorial Day weekend, with primary sponsorship from the garage behind the Discovery Channel series Fast ‘N’ Loud. “It’s exciting to return to the Dreyer & Reinbold-Kingdom team as well. We had a great run in 2014 at Indy.”
It’s important to note that this contract is only for one race, so audiences still don’t know if Karam will compete in IndyCar beyond the 500 or may have to pursue a ride in another motorsports league, such as IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship or Red Bull Global Rallycross.
Many former IndyCar drivers are enlisted for drives specifically for the Indianapolis 500 – such as J.R. Hildebrand, Simona de Silvestro, Townsend Bell and Buddy Lazier – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll participate in more than that one event. Most of them don’t, so Karam’s open-wheel career is still very much up in the air.
Yet this one race is just that – one opportunity to see him rebound from a disappointing 2015 season and perhaps make him appealing to teams that may have seats open in 2017.
His signing was one of multiple announcements made regarding this year’s Indianapolis 500 on Friday. In the same press release, the league announced that it had sold presenting sponsorship rights for the 2016 race – the first time ever that has happened in the history of the event. The Indianapolis 500 will now be known as “The Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil” through 2018.
PennGrade is a brand of D-A Lubricants, which is already involved in IndyCar through its sponsorship of the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan car driven by Graham Rahal.
The 100th Indianapolis 500 takes place on Sunday, May 29.
For more on the Verizon IndyCar Series, visit the league’s website.