SCOTT SHARP: COMING FULL CIRCLE IN 2008 Although Scott Sharp's big news in the past 10 years has been centered on his great results in open-wheel racing, his professional career began in sports cars in the 1980s. He achieved...
SCOTT SHARP: COMING FULL CIRCLE IN 2008
Although Scott Sharp's big news in the past 10 years has been centered on his great results in open-wheel racing, his professional career began in sports cars in the 1980s. He achieved great success in his first SCCA season in 1986, bringing home the GT2 Championship and Rookie of the Year honors. Proving that was no fluke, he went on to claim back-to back SCCA GT1 championships in 1987 and 1988.
Moving to the Trans-Am Series in 1989, Sharp quickly proved he also had what it took to excel when he became the youngest champion in an SCCA professional series in 1991. He secured his place in the pantheon of sports- car racing champions when he brought home another Trans-Am Championship in 1993.
Moving to open-wheel racing for the next 14 years, Scott was the Indy Racing League's co-champion in 1996, the League's first year of competition. His impressive career in the IRL included nine IndyCar event wins and 35 top-five finishes. He holds the IndyCar record of 138 consecutive race starts. The 2008 season marks Scott's debut in the American Le Mans Series. He weighed in on his return to sports car racing, the upcoming races and on the Acura ARX-01b he drives for Patron Highcroft Racing.
How has the transition been from open-wheel racing back to sports cars? Technologically, where are these sports cars on the continuum?
The transition has been fantastic. Having raced ovals for the past 15 years, I was really ready to shake things up. I really hadn't spent much time on road courses or street circuits in a long time, so I had to refamiliarize myself with that, plus get used to a new car. I have to say - I was literally blown away the first time I got in the Acura. I was overwhelmingly pleased at how much confidence it gave me and how technically superb the car was. There was no period of adaptation.
Let me give you an example of the power of the Acura ARX-01b. Due to LMP2 rules and the way our air flow is restricted to keep horsepower down, the LMP2 has 200 fewer horsepower and weighs 200 pounds more than an Indy Car, yet runs close to the same lap times as the Indy cars. This car boasts enormous advantages from aerodynamic, chassis, downforce and braking perspectives.
Patron Highcroft Racing brought home its first victory early in the season at Long Beach. Where do you think the team's focus needs to be to build on the great results so far this season?
As a team, we're continuing to improve every week and we have had three strong finishes in our first three races. The team has kept the car extremely reliable. As drivers, [co-driver] David [Brabham] and I have focused on keeping out of trouble on the track. I think a big factor in keeping us strong is making sure we keep ourselves in position during the races and going for great finishes, like Brabs did in Long Beach.
What has this particular team experience been like so far? Thoughts on co- driving with David Brabham?
Everyone has been so supportive and helpful - I am truly impressed with everyone that Duncan [Dayton] has hired - it is a top-notch group and it shows in the racing experience and results. And then, of course, there's David. Although we've only been together for three races, I already classify him as the best teammate I've ever had. He is so extraordinarily open; he just puts everything on the table. Everyone on the team follows this example and there is an extremely open sense of communication - a team in the true sense of the word. When I first came on board, he was really helpful in pointing out areas in the car that I should pay attention to and was instrumental in helping me to adjust as quickly as possible.
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels on Sunday, May 18 from Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. The green flag is scheduled for 1 p.m. MT with live television coverage on SPEED. Live radio coverage will be available on XM Satellite Radio Channel 144 and American Le Mans Radio at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring.