Sage Karam (8) leads a pack of USF2000 drivers at Road Atlanta. Karam, the 2010 USF2000 champion for Andretti Autosport, will compete in Star Mazda for the team in 2011. (Photo: USF2000)
Today's announcement that Sage Karam will be driving for Andretti Autosport in the 2011 Star Mazda Series was the last piece to fall into the team's Road to Indy puzzle.
With Karam's signing, Andretti Autosport is the first - and, to date, only - IZOD IndyCar Series team that has a presence in every Road to Indy program, from USF2000 all the way up to the IndyCar series itself.
If that weren't awesome enough, Andretti Autosport also boasts the highest concentration of American driving talent per capita than any other IndyCar series effort. Taking into account the team's part-time and Indy-only programs, AA can now claim to field seven American drivers out of nine Andretti teams. Only IICS part-timer Adam Carroll and Firestone Indy Lights driver Martin Plowman fall into the "evil furriner" department.
Karam is rightfully regarded as an up-and-comer. At 15 years of age, his resume is chock full of championships - he boasts thirty-five karting championships between the World Karting Association and Stars of Karting. During USF2000 competition this year, he set five track records and won nine out of 12 starts en route to the series championship. Oh, and he also won Rookie of the Year too.
Andretti Autosport will continue to field a USF2000 team for youngster Zach Veach, who finished fourth in 2010 points and had a season-high finish of 2nd. Charlie Kimball and Plowman will continue with the team's FILS program.
The only Road to Indy program not currently on Andretti Autosport's curriculum vitae is a karting team - but that too may only be a matter of time.
Top IndyCar teams Penske Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing have thus far failed to extend their developmental largesse that they display in their NASCAR programs to the IndyCar series. Here's hoping that Andretti Autosport's excellent example helps convince them to see the error of their ways.