By: Tanner Watkins
May 25, 2019 | 3:00 PM
For race car drivers, every little bit of good luck and speed helps. As Sage Karam has learned during a challenging month of May, it helps to have a friend looking down on you in your toughest moments – especially a longtime staple in your family.
On Sunday, Karam will embark on his sixth start in the Indianapolis 500. It came only after a clutch run in Sunday’s Last Row Shootout to put the Pennsylvania driver in the 33-car field. As it turns out, Karam had some help on his side in the form of a special necklace.
Over the offseason, Karam’s family dog Max suddenly passed away after a long and happy life.
“Growing up, that was my best friend,” said Karam this week. “He just recently passed and it was kind of sudden – we didn’t really expect it. That was a tough time.”
In the difficult moments came a bit of optimism when Karam’s mother got him a necklace weeks later that contained the ashes of Max. One of the first things that came to mind for Sage was giving Max a chance to ride around the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“My mom got me a necklace that she put his ashes, so that was a cool surprise,” Karam noted.
“The first thing I thought about was (that) it had to go around the Speedway with me. I have been wearing it… Maybe on Sunday, that was what gave me the extra push.”
Karam has worn the necklace each time he has been in the car in 2019, including all practice and qualifying days at the Indianapolis 500. With their 2019 race bid on the line during Bump Day qualifications, Karam delivered with a four-lap average of 227.740 mph – the fastest of six last-chance qualifiers.
Starting from 31st this Sunday, Karam is in familiar territory: for each of the six starts Sage has in the Indianapolis 500, every time he has started 21st or worse – plus a start from 31st in his rookie run which netted a ninth-place finish.
The point is, Karam has no fear coming from the back to the front in hopes for Indianapolis 500 immortality.
“It is definitely possible; I have seen a lot of good guys come from the back and have chances of winning,” said the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver. “In this race, anything can happen. It is a long, long race. Just got to keep my nose clean and save some fuel.
With a good pit crew and the first stall on pit road – which will allow for an easy entry and exit into his pit box each time – Karam knows that it is up to him to execute.
“Just (have) to do my job and we will be okay.”
Header image by Shawn Gritzmacher/INDYCAR.
Open-Wheels coverage of the 2019 month of May at Indianapolis is presented by Driven 2 Save Lives. Driven 2 Save Lives, an entity of the Indiana Donor Network, is a program that utilizes motorsports as a platform to encourage race fans to become organ donors. Currently, there are 114,000 individuals that are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Register as an organ, tissue, and eye donor at Driven2SaveLives.org/register and follow Driven2SaveLives on Facebook and Twitter.