After a lifetime racing anything with four wheels and engine, Sage Karam is setting his sights on NASCAR. With experience ranging from IndyCar to rallycross and everything in-between, Karam, 27, will make his 2022 Xfinity Series debut Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway driving the No. 44 Chevrolet for Alpha Prime Racing.
He also made four Xfinity Series starts and one Truck Series start in 2021 after rattling off eight straight Indy 500 starts dating back to his teenaged years. His best IndyCar finish came in 2015 at Iowa Raceway where he came in third, while his best Indy 500 finish came last year when he finished seventh. The buzz that the Indy 500 finish created helped reinvigorate Karam’s reputation in racing circles.
“After the [Indy 500], I kind of got put back on some radars that I think I went missing on the last few years,” Karam said.
Some of NASCAR’s biggest names are taking notice
After partnering with Jordan Anderson Racing, Karam began dipping his toe into the NASCAR scene, posting decent finishes in his first few races; but impressing his owners nonetheless. At Bristol, Karam made his biggest impression on other team owners — and himself. After starting 32nd with no practice or qualifying, Karam finished 16th in his short-track debut; one lap down but with a clean car.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Childress took notice.
“After Bristol, I was standing in the hauler and I was changing, and I got a knock on the door,” Karam recalled. “I opened it up and it was Richard Childress. And he just wanted to say, ‘Hey, man, just wanted to congratulate you on your run tonight. That was really, really cool to see a guy come over on one of the hardest tracks and do as well as you did. That’s not easy.’
“And for a guy like that to notice that — and it’s only a 16th-place run at Bristol. But I think what people see is that it’s a huge step, and when you can have runs like that, that’s pretty cool.”
Karam grew up around racing from a very early age
The switch to NASCAR hasn’t been seamless, but Sage Karam learned at a young age how to deal with the sport mentally. The young racer grew up in Nazareth, Pennsylvania; a town famous for its legendary racing resident, the Andrettis.
“My whole childhood was basically spent up at the Andretti house,” Sage Karam said. “I had more dinners there than at our own house growing up. So I was just kind of surrounded by the racing world.”
Karam said in an interview that his target is “eight to 12 races” in the Xfinity Series this season.
“That would be a great schedule for me, a great year for me,” he said. “And that would give me a little bit of variety. I’d be doing some superspeedway racing, mile-and-a-half (tracks), road courses, short-track racing. Just knocking everything off the checklist and seeing what I can do on different types of tracks.”