SONOMA, Calif. – Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Sage Karam said that nothing in the onboard telemetry or video can point to why his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet spun in Turn 1 of Lap 180 of the ABC Supply 500 and made heavy contact with the SAFER Barrier.
The crash, while Karam was leading the 200-lap race, scattered debris on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway triangular racetrack. A section of the front wing assembly bounced off the asphalt racing surface several times and struck driver Justin Wilson, who was trailing the incident by several seconds.
Wilson, driving the No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda, was attended to by the Holmatro Safety Team and airlifted to a local hospital. He succumbed to a head injury Aug. 24.
“We looked into the data and I did nothing different from the laps before. I was actually in the lead for a few laps so the clean air didn’t catch me by surprise or anything,” said Karam from Sonoma Raceway. “I made a few adjustments two laps before to give the car a little bit more understeer. Nothing popped out. Nothing on the car broke. I didn’t hit the apron. It was a late corner spin, and when it went it went fast.”
Karam, 20, of Nazareth, Pa., who sustained a bruised foot in the incident, is attending the Verizon IndyCar Series championship-deciding race at Sonoma Raceway. He was not scheduled to drive in the season finale. Sebastian Saavdera is driving the No. 8 AFS Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet on the 2.285-mile, 12-turn road course.
“If I were in a car I would do what Justin would want me to do, which is go out there and be a badass and do what I always do.”
Karam said he’s been working with a psychologist this week. He has not spoken with Wilson’s widow, Julia, but visited with Wilson’s younger brother, Stefan, at the hospital and they have remained in touch this week.
“This isn’t a good week for racing losing such a great guy. It’s been tough on me, but the main thing is Justin’s family,” he said. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through.
“I had questions about coming to this race, whether I needed to or not. But it’s always good to be around the racing family because these are the people who are closest to me and will be able to pick me up when I need to be picked up. Being around my teammates and the crew and all the fans out here has been good so far.
“I don’t think there’s any comfort in this but it was such a freak accident. At night, you’re (in bed) looking at the ceiling and saying, ‘What if I didn’t spin?’ And that’s the toughest thing.”
Karam, who earned his first podium finish at Iowa Speedway and recorded two top fives in 12 starts this season, said he was confident to driving the Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records car to Victory Circle at his “home race.”
“I was in such a zone. The car wasn’t loose the whole race, and that’s why I don’t understand what happened and I’ve looked at the video 100 times,” he said. “The car was really fast and the crew did a great job. I was bummed that I couldn’t finish the job for them.”