Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power, and Tony Kanaan

Sage Karam shared a hearty laugh with Chip Ganassi Racing Teams consultant Dario Franchitti minutes after the checkered flag in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“I came into the pits after the race, took off my helmet to debrief with the guys and noticed I didn’t use any tear offs from my helmet,” the first-year Verizon Indycar Series driver said. “A rookie mistake I guess. I was so focused on taking care of the car and running good laps I totally forgot.

“But all in all I just tried to do what the team told me to which was keep the car in one piece and run all the laps. Although I wished we would have finished higher, I know that this is a learning process.”

Karam, 20, of Nazareth, Pa., was the youngest competitor in the 24-car field for the season-opening Verizon IndyCar Series race, and among 13 drivers in their 20s. The average age of the starters was 29.5 years. Will Power, 34, was the youngest of the podium finishers, who had accrued 494 Indy car starts and 54 victories.

“Experience counts a lot,” said Power, the reigning series champion. “I'm working that out now. You're just smarter in so many ways. You just understand it so much better.  You take what it gives you instead of trying to force it.  Experience counts, which is great for the series. I love that older guys win.”

Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya held off Power by .9930 of a second to win the 110-lap race on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course in the debut of Chevrolet and Honda aerodynamic bodywork packages. Montoya, 39, the 1999 CART champion and 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner, also has won races in Formula One and NASCAR. Third-place finisher Tony Kanaan, who made his 295th Indy car start, is 40.

“Look at every sport,” Kanaan said. “If you want to compare to NASCAR, compare to Formula One, every once in a while you have young kids. But we went through the process. When me and Juan joined CART, we had (Al) Unser (Jr.), Jimmy Vasser. It's just a cycle, right?

“Especially nowadays, changing the series, the aero kits, the way we are, experience counts a lot."

A look at the age demographics of the three main motorsports series in their season-opening races: 

Verizon IndyCar Series
2015 Race 1 - Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
March 29, 2015 - St. Petersburg, Fla.
Average Age
(24 starters)
29.5 years
Youngest Sage Karam (20 years, 24 days)
Started 18th, Finished 19th
Oldest Tony Kanaan (40 years, 88 days)
Started 7th, Finished 3rd
Noteable Half of the field is in their 20s. Of the podium finishers, Will Power was the youngest driver (34 years old)

Formula One
2015 Race 1 - Australian Grand Prix
March 15, 2015 - Melbourne, Australia
Average Age
(18 qualifiers)
26.8 years
Youngest Max Verstappen (17 years, 166 days)
Qualified 12th, Retired after 32 laps
Oldest Jensen Button (35 years, 55 days)
Qualified 17th, Finished 11th
Noteable At 17 years, 166 days, Verstappen is the youngest World Championship Grand Prix driver to start a Formula One race.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
2015 Race 1 - Daytona 500
Feb. 22, 2015 - Daytona Beach, Fla.
Average Age
(43 starters)
33.62 years
Youngest Ryan Blaney (21 years, 53 days)
Started 12th, Finished 39th
Oldest Mike Wallace (55 years, 349 days)
Started 16th, Finished 36th
Noteable There were 12 drivers in their 20s who started the race; 23 in their 30s; five in their 40s and Wallace, Michael Waltrip (51) and Bobby Labonte (50) among more experienced drivers.