The ups and downs of Indy for Dreyer & Reinbold

At the end of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NTT IndyCar Series competitors will target the streets of Belle Isle, Michigan for Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

One team not represented at Belle Isle is Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

The Indianapolis-based team, which fielded Chevrolets for Sage Karam and Santino Ferrucci at Indy, had possibly their best performance during The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Karam at a pit stop. (Penske Entertainment/Chris Jones)

“I think that was our strongest year together. I think you saw that. I have seen that. I think a lot of people saw that,” said Karam, driver of car #24. “I think having Santino as a teammate was really beneficial, I think he and I worked really well together. I think we really pushed each other. We took the program to the next level and really leaned on each other. I think it’s been a really good month for the whole team.”

After finishing seventh at last year’s Indy 500, Karam lurked around the top 10 towards the end of the race. Unfortunately, it all fell apart in no time.

On the final restart with two laps to go, Karam went into the outer groove when a stack at turn two threw up part of the field.

“I kind of came to the wrong end there,” Karam said. “Then Josef (Newgarden) had a good run on me as I went on three. And then it checked me out so much that I had to let Joesf pass. I just never got a rhythm in those two laps and I just kept trying to get back into the normal line and I always had someone backing me up or something.

“And then on the last lap I thought I was good and probably going for a 15th place or something, I don’t know what it would be. (David) Malukas lunged late into turn two and I just had nowhere to go. I don’t know if we had an easy contact or not, but it was really a difficult spot. The car wobbled and saved once and then wobbled again and saved twice but unfortunately we just ran out of space.”

Karam’s #24 Chevrolet slid to a halt in the infield grass to end his day in 23rd place.

“I think there was a good opportunity for both cars to finish in the top 10,” said Karam. “It just didn’t happen that day. I think if we finished 15th, I don’t think we would have been happy with that. I gave it my all to try and get it in that top 10 range.”

Ferrucci, who started 15th, easily worked his way into the top 10 before hanging in the top 6 for most of the afternoon.

The 2019 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year made his mark among the elite teams in the IndyCar Series with his bold restarts and aggressive strategy.

“It was really good. We ran up front all day,” said Ferrucci. “I definitely had the car to win and then the last stint, something with the tyres, with the heat, we only have one missed a bit. Honestly nothing we could do. The team did a great job all day.”

Although Ferrucci dropped to 10th late in the race, the driver of the No. 23 Chevrolet was very positive about the result.

Ferrucci in the pit lane. (Penske Entertainment/Chris Jones)

“We were able to pass the pack,” Ferrucci said. “We just had to be patient, we had to wait until the drivers made small mistakes to be there. We had really consistent race cars. Where you’ve seen a lot of people fall off two, I’ve never really felt at ease. I never really felt any insecurities all day. I felt, especially early in the race, that I definitely thought we had the best car out there. We felt very comfortable which allows us to really focus on ourselves.”

As the two drivers reflected on the month of May, the most important aspect that struck them was the energy that brought the more than 300,000 fans to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time in almost three years.

“After you don’t have fans there, you never want to experience that again at the speedway,” Karam said. “You just appreciate what the fans are doing for the event. When we showed up on race day this year, all we could see was the line of traffic to get onto the speedway and just the crowd of people rolling in. All you got was chills and goosebumps when you hit the track that morning. That’s what defines Indy. Indy is the fans.”

Ferrucci, who has only competed in a full capacity Indianapolis 500 (2019), soaked up the atmosphere all month.

“Honestly, it was fantastic,” Ferrucci said. “The last two 500s I’ve been in, one had no fans, one had 130,000. When they did, it was impressive. This one really brings me back to 2019, my rookie year. It happened so quickly because it was so new to me that I didn’t really get a chance to process it. This year I’ve been able to really enjoy myself and spend time with fans and see exactly how many people are out there. It was impressive. It is an unreal event.”

Karam believes that not only the Indy 500 but also IndyCar racing has shown an upward trend throughout the month of May.

Sage Karam waves to a packed grandstand. (Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski)

“I think it shows where the sport is going,” Karam said. “Having the Indy 500 next to the 100th with the most visitors in over 20 years I think says a lot about the direction IndyCar is going, where the Indy 500 is going and the product that IndyCar Racing is right now indicates.”

With the curtain closing on another Indianapolis 500, 27-year-old Karam’s future is a mystery.

Karam is expected to contest a part-time schedule in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Alpha Prime Racing, but no races have been officially announced yet.

“I really don’t have an answer as to where my full-time racing career is going and what that looks like in a year, two years, three years,” Karam said. “In the short term I will be doing some NASCAR Xfinity races. I’d really like to try the rally stuff again later this year with Dreyer & Reinbold with the new Nitro series. These new electric supercars they’ve put together there look really, really cool. I’d really like to try a race or two in it. As far as IndyCar stuff goes, I doubt I’ll be able to do any more IndyCar races this year. It’s more or less just doing other things and hopefully working to finish next year.

“Of course I want to be back on the speedway. I want to be back at the Indy 500. That’s one of my top priorities right now, figuring out how to do it again next year.”

Ferrucci was named driver for Junco’s Hollinger Racing this weekend in Detroit with Callum Ilott nursing a broken hand.

“While I’m happy to be back in the car, it’s unfortunate for Callum under the circumstances,” Ferrucci said. “I hope his hand heals really quickly and he’s back on track soon. I’m just here to help the team and see if we can get a really good result and bring other lessons from my Detroit experience.”

Only time will tell what the Dreyer & Reinbold lineup for the 107 will beth Indianapolis 500.

What both Karam and Ferrucci know, however, is the commitment that Dreyer & Reinbold Racing puts into competing in the Indianapolis 500.

“For the future, Dennis (Reinbold), his biggest goal in life and racing is to have one of his cars win the Indianapolis 500,” Karam said. “As I know Dennis and have been driving for him for 8 years, if it’s not 100% he won’t do anything. He will not do anything that will affect his ability to win the Indianapolis 500.”

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