Saavedra Gets Opportunity with Ganassi in Long Beach, Replaces Karam

Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (CGRT) unveiled its upcoming plans today for the No. 8 Chevrolet entry in the Verizon IndyCar Series, which includes races for both CGRT development driver Sage Karam and team newcomer Sebastian Saavedra– who will pilot the No. 8 AFS Chevrolet at this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Saavedra will be backed by AFS Racing/Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., one of the western states largest full service fire sprinkler companies, for the races in Long Beach, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Sonoma, with an additional race at the Indianapolis 500 through a fifth entry overseen by CGRT.

After starts in St. Petersburg and New Orleans this season for CGRT, Karam will rejoin the team in the No. 8 Chevrolet for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and the Indianapolis 500, and is scheduled to run the balance of the season until Sonoma.


  • Sage Karam: Verizon IndyCar Series Rookie of The Year candidate Sage Karam signed a multi-year deal last season as a CGRT development driver which began with the 2014 Indianapolis 500, where he finished ninth. The former Indy Lights Champion became the youngest Indy Lights Champion in history at 18 years old in 2013. Karam is also the first driver to compete in all levels of the Mazda Road to Indy program, where he became the only driver to win races at each level. Prior to that he was the youngest winner of the Skip Barber scholarship, where he also became the youngest (13) winner ever in the Skip Barber shootout. Earlier this year, Karam was also teammates on the No. 01 Ford Eco-boost/Target Riley for the Rolex 24 At Daytona with Scott Pruett, Joey Hand and Charlie Kimball. In St. Petersburg in March, Karam became the youngest driver in CGRT history to start an Indy car race for the team at 20 years old. Team Target driver Scott Dixon held the mark at 22 years old when he debuted for CGRT at the Milwaukee Mile in 2002.
  • Sebastien Saavedra: The Colombian driver began his racing career in karting at 8 years old, then moved to race in Europe and became the youngest rookie champion in F3 with multiple wins. In 2009, Saavedra came to America and signed to drive in the Indy Lights Series with Andretti Green Racing, where he captured two wins and a runner-up finish in the championship that season. He made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in the Indianapolis 500 in 2010 for Bryan Herta Autosport, and the 24-year-old has 33 starts to his credit with a pole position coming in last year’s inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
  • About AFS: AFS Racing is owned by Gary Peterson, the founder of Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. The team was formed in 2002 and was one of the founding members of the Infiniti Pro Series (now Indy Lights). The team earned over 40 top-five finishes in Indy Lights, winning the championship in 2008 and 2009. AFS Racing, which began competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2009, will contest its seventh IndyCar season in 2015.
  • History of the No. 8: The No. 8 car made its debut with the Target Racing program at CGRT in 1991, one year after the team’s inception, in the CART series with Eddie Cheever behind the wheel. After a two-year hiatus, the No. 8 returned to the program with team newcomer Michael Andretti. Andretti earned CGRT’s first-ever win in the No. 8 car in Australia. The No. 8 car would not return until 2013, when Ryan Briscoe piloted the number in the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 and continued to drive the No. 8 full-time in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season.


Sage Karam, Driver:  “I’m grateful to Chip and the team for their ongoing commitment to me, and I can’t wait to get back in the car at Barber. I just take things one day at a time and nothing has really changed for me since I started as a development driver here– when Chip calls, I’m ready to go race.”

Sebastian Saavedra, Driver: “It’s good to be back in the Verizon IndyCar Series. This is an amazing opportunity for me with AFS to work with one of the most prestigious teams in all of racing. I’m very grateful to Chip and the team, which have had an incredible history in the sport, and specifically in the Indianapolis 500. I’m looking forward to Long Beach and doing everything I can to help get the No. 8 car to the front.”

Chip Ganassi, Owner, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Inc.: “We’ve been committed to Sage and to running the No. 8 car in the full Verizon IndyCar Series season since day one, and this plan reflects our continued investment in the series and in the team. Sage continues to grow his race craft in his development role with us, and we look forward to having both he and Sebastian contribute to the No. 8 team moving forward this season.”

Gary Peterson, Owner, AFS: “I’m excited about this coming together quickly with the Ganassi No. 8 entry. It looks to be a great alignment between AFS Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and Sebastian Saavedra. My heart has always been in racing and it will be great to see Sebastian have the chance he deserves with a great team. With the opportunities being limited for AFS, we had planned to sit this season out until this fantastic opportunity!”

Chip Ganassi Racing

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