SHARP AND THE TEQUILA PATRON PANTHER SQUAD READY FOR BRICKYARD BATTLE INDIANAPOLIS, IN, Friday, May 22, 2009: Scott Sharp and the Tequila Patron Panther Racing squad have completed final preparations for Sunday's Indianapolis 500 after turning...
SHARP AND THE TEQUILA PATRON PANTHER SQUAD READY FOR BRICKYARD BATTLE
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, Friday, May 22, 2009: Scott Sharp and the Tequila Patron Panther Racing squad have completed final preparations for Sunday's Indianapolis 500 after turning 35 laps at the Speedway on Carb Day today.
Sharp recorded a fastest lap of 219.977mph around the famous 100-year-old 2.5 mile track to be 17th fastest. The one-hour session today was the team's final on-track opportunity before Sunday's 500 classic goes green at 1:00pm on Sunday.
The Connecticut-born Florida resident is the most experienced driver in the 2009 field. Sharp will make his 14th Indianapolis 500 start on Sunday. He returns to the event after missing last year's race. In the three previous races prior to that, Sharp recorded a string of top ten finishes highlighted by his best ever finish of fifth place in 2007.
Sharp will start Sunday's race in the middle of the seventh row in 20th place - two spots behind his Panther Racing team-mate, Dan Wheldon. He scored his place in the field with a dramatic final run of the afternoon on day two qualifying - his third attempt of the day.
The 2001 pole-sitter missed last weekend's second week of Indy action while on duty for his American Le Mans Series team, Patron Highcroft Racing. Sharp finished second with teammate David Brabham at Salt Lake City's Miller Motorsports Park facility. Sharp and Brabham currently lead the LMP1 point championship in the ALMS by 17 points.
Sharp's final Indy appearances prior to the race will include tomorrow's driver autograph session on the Pagoda Plaza, the Public Drivers Meeting and the "500" Festival Parade in downtown Indianapolis.
"We definitely made some gains today. About half way through the session we switched over to Dan's set-up that was a bit of an improvement.
"We're certainly moving forward and if we can make one more step for the race on Sunday, I think we will be in good shape.
"We started on full tanks and topped up during the session today. It was great to run in some traffic because it gave us a good read on the car because this has been the only race-type running we have had.
"We'll go back and run the car over the set-up pad and have a long discussion to see what changes we should make for the race.
"I'm really looking forward to Sunday. This is certainly my favorite race and my favorite track and it is brilliant to be back.
"This is one that every driver wants to win. It is a big challenge, but I wouldn't be back unless I had a huge desire to get that Tequila Patron car into victory lane at the 500."