INDIANAPOLIS, January 23, 2002 -- Kelley Racing driver Scott Sharp is preparing for one of his busiest seasons of racing since he competed in the SCCA Trans-Am Championship. Sharp’s hectic season begins with the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona on Feb. 2-3 and continues with this year’s True Value International Race of Champions Series and the Indy Racing League. Between his race schedules, testing, and other appearances Sharp will be on the road for 28 weeks over the next eight months.
“ I don’t think I’ve had this busy of a schedule since my Trans-Am days when we had a 15 or 16 race series and I did some endurance racing on the side,” said Sharp.“ My first year of CART was pretty busy too when I ran IROC as well. But this year will definitely be my busiest.”
Before he begins his season of racing, Sharp has to take care of some off-track business. This weekend he will take his No. 8 Indy Racing car and head to Los Angeles where he will shoot a commercial for his primary sponsor Delphi Automotive Systems. The shoot involves Sharp driving on city streets and coming through a tunnel in his race car. The commercial is scheduled to air beginning in April 2002.
Sharp then returns to Indianapolis on Jan. 29 to co-host Kelley Racing’s Open House with teammate Greg Ray. The private event will play host to sponsors and media as well as Indy Racing VIP’s and guests. The team will also take advantage of the event to thank the many companies who helped the team transform an old warehouse into a race shop within a two-month period.
The following day, Sharp jumps back on a plane and returns to Daytona International Speedway where he will drive the Elan Riley & Scott sports car for Jim Matthews Racing in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Sharp won the 1996 Rolex 24 Hours in a Riley & Scott with teammates Wayne Taylor and Jim Pace. His teammates for this year’s endurance race are Matthews, Robby Gordon, and Guy Smith.
During the first day of testing on Jan. 3, the Matthews Riley & Scott team posted the fastest overall speed of 126.326 mph around the 3.56-mile road course. Two days later the team broke the track record making them one of the Top-3 teams in overall speed for the three-day test.
“ I haven’t been in a Riley & Scott since’ 97, but it felt great,” said Sharp.“ It was like I never got out of it. This year’s car is an updated version and Riley & Scott have certainly improved the car. Plus the Elan engine is very powerful. I think we have a really good shot at winning that race.”
Following the 24 Hour race, the 1996 Indy Racing League Co-Champion will stay in Daytona to test IROC cars on Tuesday, Feb.5. That night he will jump on a jet and head to California where his focus will shift back to Indy Racing as he and his Kelley Racing teammates head to the Test in the West at California Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway Feb. 6-9.
After the Test in the West, Sharp will return back to Indy, but only for a short stay. He is scheduled to return to Daytona to compete in the first of four IROC events of the season on Feb. 15. Combine those four races with Indy Racing’s 15-event schedule and the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and Sharp finds himself competing in 20 events for the 2002 season.