DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Sage Karam had a race filled with firsts.
Just not the one that mattered: finishing first.
The Indy Lights champion competed in his first Rolex 24 at Daytona with the defending, race-winning car from Chip Ganassi Racing and joked a win would give him a Rolex watch to wear to his prom.
But the team was plagued by problems and eliminated from contention before Karam ever got behind the wheel.
So the 18-year-old had to settle for crossing off a number of achievements on his resume.
It was his first international race, his first race in a car with a roof and the first time he's had to make pit stops. His two stints in the cockpit also marked the longest stretches Karam has competed in a paid race.
"Before this race, I've driven Indy Lights and I've only really been in the car at one point for about an hour," he said. "So this is the first time I've been in the car for more than an hour at a time. Also, this is the first time I've ever done pit stops, and the first time I've ever had to share a car with people, so it was a completely new experience for me.
"I look at is as, the more cars you drive, the more tools you start to become familiar with and can use in different types of racing."
Karam was the third-youngest driver in the field. He had Sean Rayall beat by five days, and is seven months older than Madison Snow. So young compared to the rest of the field, Karam wasn't legally able to rent a car upon his arrival in Daytona and had to be shuttled back and forth between the hotel and Daytona International Speedway.
Once at the track Saturday for the start of the twice-around-the-clock endurance race, he got to sit around and wait for his turn in the No. 01 Ford.
And wait some more.