IRL: Sharp fastest in Miami Indy testing

MIAMI (January 18, 2001) -- Indy Racing driver Scott Sharp took to Homestead-Miami Speedway "like a duck takes to water" on Thursday, posting the fastest lap in unofficial testing for the April 6-8 Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami. Sharp, the ...

MIAMI (January 18, 2001) -- Indy Racing driver Scott Sharp took to Homestead-Miami Speedway "like a duck takes to water" on Thursday, posting the fastest lap in unofficial testing for the April 6-8 Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami.

Sharp, the winningest driver in Indy Racing competition with five victories, posted a fast lap of 198.3 mph in the Kelley Racing Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara Aurora, 27.2 seconds on the 1.5-mile oval. Tickets are now on sale for the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami, the debut of Indy Racing in South Florida, by calling (305) 230-RACE, or may be ordered on-line at www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com.

"I absolutely love it here, I really do," said Sharp, whose only prior experience at the Speedway was finishing sixth in a 1996 Trans-Am race on the road course. "Within eight laps, I was within one mile an hour of the track record (Greg Ray's unofficial test lap of 197.6 mph), and the whole Delphi team is working real well together. We've got a few new key people, and one of our goals is getting everyone working together and building team cohesion. That's really working, and the car's handling really well right now, we're real pleased with the Firestone teams, so everything's going quite well today.

"We kept working on the car, and later in the morning we ran 198 and change," Sharp added. "By the time people really get dialed in, you're going to have to run 200 or faster for the pole."

But Sharp went on to explain that winning the pole at Miami is not a prime priority.

"I think it's going to be pretty evident that how you qualify here is going to be a lot different than how you race," the 32-year-old Connecticut native explained. "This is going to be one of those tracks where you can qualify anywhere in the field, and if you've got a car that's solid 30-40 laps into a run, you're going to go to the front. At some tracks, qualifying and racing go hand in hand. Here, they're at opposite ends of the spectrum."

Sharp set Indy Racing history last year at Texas Motor Speedway when he edged Robbie McGehee by 0.059 seconds, the closest finish in IRL history. That event saw 31 official lead changes among eight drivers, with Sharp and McGehee racing side by side throughout the closing laps. Will fans at Homestead-Miami Speedway see that kind of racing?

"This is going to be one of the tracks that showcase the Indy Racing equipment," Sharp said. "With the rules package the IRL's really worked hard on, the cars race side-by-side, nose-to-tail, and you're going to see 200-mph laps around here with cars side by side and eight-10 cars in a pack. I think you're going to see a great race here.

"It's great that Indy Racing is here. Miami is a great place to be, and this is a beautiful race track. I'm really impressed. I felt right at home on my first lap, going down the back straight with all the palm trees. I was up to speed on my first lap." Joining Sharp at the two-day test was Treadway-Hubbard Racing's Davey Hamilton, and Hemelgarn/Metro Racing's Stan Wattles. Practice for the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami begins on Friday, April 6, with qualifying on Saturday, April 7. For additional information, visit the official web site, www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com.

-HMS

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Scott Sharp , Stan Wattles