Chasing points in 2023, Saj Karam aims for a stable journey

LONG POND, PA - JULY 23: Sage Karam, driver of #45 CRC Brakleen Chevrolet, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series.  Explore the Pocono Mountains 225at Pocono Racetrack on July 23, 2022 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Logan Riley/Getty Images) |  Getty Images

LONG POND, PA – JULY 23: Sage Karam, driver of #45 CRC Brakleen Chevrolet, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Explore the Pocono Mountains 225at Pocono Racetrack on July 23, 2022 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Logan Riley/Getty Images) | Getty Images

by Dustin Albino

Sage Karam has always wanted to take a chance to compete in NASCAR. He was just looking for the right opportunity.

It wasn’t very easy to start a real conversation with anyone about going to one of these races.” “I couldn’t pick up the phone and call someone and keep making that call.”

Karam’s credentials speak for themselves. In 25 NTT IndyCar Series races, he has one podium finish. But since 2016, he’s had a run for every Indianapolis 500 with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Furthermore, he did sports car racing, which originally signed to Chip Ganassi Racing out of high school.

Getting one shot each year to prove oneself is stressful. He takes it personally when he doesn’t perform well in May. That’s what made his seventh-place ranking in the 2021 Indy 500 race all the more significant.

Karam said of his efforts to finish seventh in the Indy 500: “I feel like that put my name back on the map. That’s when I had the opportunity to do an Indianapolis road course with Jordan Anderson last year. That was supposed to be the only race and it turned into, ‘Let’s go to Bristol, let’s try the truck racing in Martinsville, let’s go to Phoenix, let’s try Charlotte Roval.”

“I flipped what was supposed to be that one race and just felt like, ‘Wow, I’m really enjoying this, I really like this and I want to do more. “

It was on Karam’s wish list to expand on this strength and experiment with ovals and super speed. He thought that racing on the road would be easily adaptable, given that it had a massive background of turning left and right. But surprisingly, it was the opposite. He thinks it’s because a regular car is much heavier than an IndyCar, and he’s repeatedly shut off his tires.

In four Xfinity Series starting in 2021 for Jordan Anderson Racing, Karam earned his best result of 16th at Bristol, a track that demands perfection. He admitted that racing in Phoenix in the last race of the year was his biggest challenge.

After last year, Karam learned he wanted to try his hand at NASCAR on a more regular basis. During the holiday season, Alpha Prime Racing He announced that he would run a partial schedule In No. 44 and 45 Chevrolets. He had something to prove.

“I have now moved to where I want to devote myself to this work,” Karam said. “I want to start competing for points because I haven’t competed for points in anything in a long time. I think it would be great to sit there at night and look at the standings and say, ‘What do I need to capture these places?'”

Tommy Jo Martins, co-owner of Alpha Prime, welcomed generosity into the fold of its drivers. The Pennsylvania native is one of 11 drivers competing in at least one race for Alpha Prime this season. Being a mid-size Xfinity team, Alpha Prime is a good destination for drivers with limited experience.

“We believed in Sage’s talent and wanted to ride her in the car as often as we could,” Martins noted. “It has been exciting to see his growth as a driver over the course of this year.”

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JULY 29: Sage Karam, the 45th driver of the Chevrolet Market Rebellion, drives during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 29, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Logan Riley/Getty Images) |  Getty Images
(Photo by Logan Riley/Getty Images) | Getty Images

That growth includes a quadruple of the top 20 in seven starts. At Daytona last month, Karam secured the team’s top five spot with a victory over the late-race carnage. His last three results finished in the top twenty.

The other three results ended up in the garage. It crashed late in his early year in Atlanta and blew out an engine in July on the same track. Meanwhile, Noah Gregson Deliberately destroyed him in Rhode America When fighting for position within the top ten.

While he described 2022 as “fantastic,” it was a year of learning for Karam.

“All these opportunities, you have to take full advantage of them and do your best because you only remember your last race,” Karam said. “You have to do well.”

Martins has seen a huge improvement in generosity this season.

“The important thing for them is to gain more experience for him at the end of the year,” Martins said. “The road cycles, we know how fast he is. He is very comfortable on the short tracks. On the highways, he has done very well. His biggest learning curve will be on the mile-and-a-half racetracks.”

Starting this weekend in Bristol, Karam will be doing just that Driving the No. 02 of our motorsports In four of the last eight races of the 2022 season. Originally, he was scheduled to drive one of the Alpha Prime cars in Texas, although that now seems unlikely because he’s signed with Our Motorsports.

Because Karam hasn’t competed for points since winning the 2013 Indy Lights Championship, he wants to do so soon. It’s eating into him that he can compete in a NASCAR race or break the top 10 in the Indy 500 and sit on the couch next week.

HAMPTON, GA - Sage Karam, driver of the #44 peachwood Chevrolet flooring, waves fans as he walks on stage during driver introductions ahead of the NASCAR Xfinity Alsco Uniforms 250 Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 9, 2022 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) |  Getty Images
(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) | Getty Images

There were many times Karam thought his racing career would be over. He has had difficult and honest conversations with his family and is persistent.

“A lot of the time, you don’t get it or understand it, but for some reason you find a way to keep pushing,” Karam said. “One door shuts, another opens. As cliched as this sounds, it is really true.”

His next goal is to be on the NASCAR stage frequently. Then, he can figure out what he wants to achieve at that level.

“As a competitor, I want to strive for victories and do everything I can, but you have to make things realistic as well,” he said. “This year has been good to get to know the car on a lot of different tracks. But if I can be full-time next year then the biggest goal for me would be to try to face off for qualifying. I know this is a tough and big goal, but you have to set goals and I don’t think It’s an impossible goal. If I could do that, I think it would show a lot of people here that I’m not just this open-wheeled guy trying to make this transition. I’ve really made the transition trying to make it a living.”

How realistic will Karam be full-time in 2023?

He said, “I think there’s a pretty good shot. For me, it’s a top priority to be full-time. I’ve made this a very high priority within my camp that I don’t like these things part-time every year. I want to be full-time again and I Ready to chase a NASCAR dream and see what we can do here. I’m at the point in my life where I can make that transformation.”

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