SIM Racing Helped Sage Karam Improve His Racing Career As A Teenager

Sage Karam leads the field at virtual Michigan International Speedway

Sage Karam leads the field at virtual Michigan International Speedway

DRR WIX Filters Racer Has Led 116 of 175 Laps in INDYCAR Challenge Races, Heads to Motegi

by Tom Blattler

MOTEGI, Japan (April 16, 2020) – Sage Karam was making the jump from karting to open-wheel cars when he discovered a new way to improve his skills behind the wheel. It was called iRacing – a video simulation of racing in a variety of cars and on numerous racetracks.

Little did the teenager know how important the new form of ‘gaming’ would be to his racing career.

Now, at age 25 and the driver in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Karam has shown his iRacing talent in the first three events in the INDYCAR Challenge with a race win, two poles and leading 116 of 175 laps in competition.

The regular racer in the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing WIX Filter Chevrolet IndyCar grew up as a video game fanatic and moved into the simulation world quite easily.

Karam will continue his expertise in the iRacing virtual competition this Saturday, April 18, in the fourth round of INDYCAR Challenge, the Firestone 175 at the Twin Ring Motegi 1.549-mile oval set for 2:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network and

“Way back in 2007, I saw a booth at one of my karting events,” said Karam, the six-time Indy 500 starter. “It was the iRacing company showing how their product could help young drivers. Being a video ‘gamer,’ I looked on it and thought it could help my driving skills. I was moving from karts to open wheelers. And I have been involved with iRacing ever since.”

Sage immediately showed his iRacing skills in the first INDYCAR Challenge event at Watkins Glen International on April 4 with his dominating win, leading 43 of 45 laps. And he became like the “professor” for other drivers seeking assistance in the simulator action.

“I became friends of a lot of drivers I didn’t even know previously,” said Karam. “I was getting calls and texts from many guys who were just starting out in iRacing. I have tried to help as many as possible. It has been fun to help them. Some guys have experience at it and some hardly know how to start up a computer. But, with all of the drivers stuck in their house basically, the sim racing platform has been good for them and it’s great for the fans to watch something live as well. It’s a mixed bag of equipment for the drivers. Some guys have upscale sim rigs and other have very simple setups.”

The one area that has surprised Karam over his years competing in iRacing is the development of the car feel and the track surfaces. He cannot believe how close the conditions have become to real track conditions.

“It’s amazing how advanced the iRacing technology as come in the recent years,” he explains. “You can feel the bumps through your sim steering wheel and feel the difference in the track surfaces. Marbles from the tires can develop too as does the change in track grip. You see shadows on the track and glare in your car’s windscreen. It’s truly awesome.”

Karam believes the iRacing product is something all fans get to watch in live action in the tough Coronavirus pandemic timing.

“Everyone is sitting in their homes and looking for things to watch in all sports in general,” Sage said. “The iRacing is a form of competition that has real drivers competing wheel to wheel. This is opportunity for fans to watch some good racing and the sponsors to gain exposure. Other sports can’t do that right now. We hope we are giving the fans some entertainment in these strange times.”

Karam also says that the current INDYCAR Challenge races are showing the fans how competitive iRacing can be with different race strategies and the difficulty to win a race.

“Like in real racing, you need to be bulletproof to get on the podium and to win a race,” he said. “And now the same holds true in iRacing. Many of the IndyCar teams are running different fuel strategies. That has happened in the last two races for the winner. A lot of people are taking this iRacing series very seriously.”

For Karam, he enjoys the fun of the competition as well as helping his racing skills while sheltered his Nazareth, Pa., home. But the IndyCar Challenge also has shown some possible future opportunities.

“I’ve already received calls from sponsors that are wanting to get on board with the iRacing program,” Sage said. “And they are talking to our DRR team about what’s after this sim racing. The possibilities of getting involved with the real race car because they have seen how exciting the racing is in IndyCar. It’s been really cool how the racing world has embraced iRacing and it’s great how it is growing.”

But for now, the former high school wrestling star is set to wrestle his No. 24 DRR WIX Filter Chevy around the tricky Twin Ring Motegi oval this Saturday afternoon.

“I have raced on Twin Ring Motegi a few times with my simulator,” he said. “But I was too young to race there in person, similar to the Michigan track last week. But I plan to practice and get ready to run up front again if possible. It’s a big field and the racing should be outstanding again this Saturday.”

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