Sage Karam, the defending Indy Lights champion may be nearing an agreement to make his IndyCar Series debut next season -- and it will be for a full-time ride.
"With the scholarship money from Mazda, you can only put it towards a full season," Karam told Autoweek about the $1 million bonus paid to the Lights champion at the end of the season. "I'm almost in a position where I've got to [move up].
"I can't use [the funding] to pay for a few races; it's only given to me if a full season is in play, so the goal is to find funding to get a full season and I think we're pretty close right now."
The caveat is in place to avoid having a driver spend his scholarship bonus on a single race, like the Indianapolis 500 and promote participation for an entire season. The scholarship is funded by Mazda’s Road to Indy program with scholarships also available for the F2000, Pro Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights champions respectively.
Karam -- the youngest Lights champion in history at 18 years old -- is talking to several teams but is allowing his management partners, GP Sports Management to do most of the heavy lifting. Karam -- an American -- also told Autoweek that his parents are supportive of his ambitions to move up next season.
Should he find a team, Karam will become the only high school student driving in the IndyCar Series. He won’t graduate from a Nazareth, Pa. high school until May after the Indianapolis 500.
If Karam starts the March 31 season-opening event at St. Petersburg (Fla.), he will tie Sarah Fisher for the seventh-youngest starter in Indy car history. (19 years, 26 days) Nelson Philipe was the youngest (17 years, six months, 25 days) when he started the 2004 Grand Prix of Long Beach.