Sage Karam in Toronto – Last Chance or Ticket to Ride?

by The Earl of Indy, Robert Earl |

Many drivers that epitomize the 33 Dreams to make it into the Indy 500 and to race full time in the NTT Indycar Series. One of those drivers is Sage Karam.

The route for Sage has never been a straight forward path. Dubbed by many recently as an “Indy-only” driver, Sage has the opportunity to prove them wrong on Sunday with a strong run in the Honda Indy Toronto. His chance comes in the form of the #31 Car for Carlin Racing, backed by a self-storage company, SmartStop Self Storage. This sponsorship is the company’s first foray into the Series.

Sage’s rise to the Series is well documented: USF2000 Championship. Indy Lights Championship. And an Indianapolis 500 debut in 2014 with a 9th place finish. These solid results led to a ride with what I would describe as a satellite team for Chip Ganassi Racing for a partial season in 2015. He showed glimpses of promise, but honestly, Sage was never given a full chance to settle into the ride or the Series. 2016 started a string of Indy only efforts with Dryer & Reinbold Racing.

Sage has hung around. Seeking sponsors and opportunities along the way as well as driving in other Series all while remaining active in the iRacing community. – https://www.twitch.tv/sagekaram24 According to Indycar.com, Sage has had many times where he thought he had sponsorship lined up.

I?d get my hopes up, then all of a sudden at the last minute it would fall through. I?ve been kind of knocked down a lot of times. It?s been a rough road to get another race after the Indy 500 each year. I feel like I?ve been waiting so long for an opportunity like this. I?m really hungry and just ready to get after it.

Sage Karam

In the press release issued by Carlin Racing regarding this new opportunity, Sage said all the right things.

?I want to thank everyone at Carlin for giving me the opportunity to compete in an Indy car again in the NTT IndyCar series. I?m extremely excited and grateful to get back behind the wheel on a road course again for the first time since 2015 and I?m thrilled to carry a great sponsor like Smartstop Self Storage on the side of the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet. I?m looking forward to the challenge and working closely with everyone on the team to achieve a successful result and take advantage of this incredible opportunity.?

Sage Karam

Also included in the release was information about the sponsor that came on board for this race.

“SmartStop is proud to be partnering with Carlin and Sage Karam for the upcoming NTT IndyCar Series race in Toronto. We feel that this is a great opportunity to expand our ever-growing brand presence throughout Toronto, a market in which we are planning continued growth throughout the future.

H. Michael Schwartz, executive chairman of SmartStop Self Storage REIT, Inc.

Sage Karam in Toronto – Social Media

To say that Sage is excited is an understatement. Just look at his recent twitter post. @SageKaram

Another look at the car posted on Instagram the day of the announcement.

Some thoughts from The Earl:

Considering this sponsor is a Canadian-based company, do we think that this will have a carryover to other races? Some have indicated that this opportunity will lead to Karam filling in for Max Chilton with Carlin on some of the upcoming ovals, but time will tell — as may performance this weekend.

Is the #31, or Carlin Racing for that matter, at this point in Carlin’s development (only 2nd season in the Indycar Series, despite a ton of accomplishments in other Series) the best place to have a good showing that will lead to other opportunities?

To this point, in the season on street and road courses, Carlin has shown the following results:

The 8th place at Circuit of the Americas by O’Ward has been the highlight of the year for the team. So a top 15 placing, based upon the track record, would be an accomplishment.

It will also be interesting to see how much TV time coverage that Sage gets, not only in the practice sessions but also during the race. NBC has been doing a good job covering the field, especially at Indy, and hopefully, this continues during a race weekend.

What are your thoughts on Sage’s Return? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.