IRL: Motegi: Scott Sharp preview

Fast Facts: --This will be the seventh season of Indy Racing League competition for Kelley Racing. --Kelley Racing has made 155 starts, scored nine victories and eight poles in their Indy Racing League history. INDIANAPOLIS, IN-- Kelley Racing...

Fast Facts: --This will be the seventh season of Indy Racing League competition for Kelley Racing.

--Kelley Racing has made 155 starts, scored nine victories and eight poles in their Indy Racing League history.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN-- Kelley Racing and Scott Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Delphi entry, are looking forward to returning to Motegi, Japan for round three of the IRL IndyCar Series. In last year's inaugural event in Japan, Sharp scored his eighth career victory and continued his streak of at least one victory in every season he has competed in the IRL. "Motegi was an awesome victory for the Delphi team last year," said Sharp. "We just had one of those great weekends where we were competitive and things just clicked."

Sharp will actually arrive in Japan a week before the race event to spend time visiting with sponsors Delphi and Futaba in their Japanese facilities. Sharp also did a tour of the plants in 2003 and found it to be a very interesting experience. "We had a great trip to Japan last year, said Sharp. "We did a lot of work for Futaba because they have a very big presence in Japan. They toured us all over the country and we got the inside look---their favorite restaurants, visiting with the Futaba and Delphi employees in their plants and we saw some pretty interesting sights."

Practice for the Indy Japan 300 begins on Thursday at 12:00 p.m. local time with a second practice session set to begin at 2:30 p.m. Practice will continue on Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. with qualifying set to begin at 12:30 p.m. Although the race is held on Saturday, April 17 in Japan, you will be able to view it live on ESPN2 beginning at 11:30 p.m EDT on Friday, April 16.

Fast Facts

*This will be Sharp's 85th career start, his 77th consecutive IndyCar start--an IRL record-- and his seventh season with Kelley Racing and his eighth IndyCar season.

*In the inaugural event in 2003, Sharp scored a victory after starting from seventh place.

*Sharp finished 2003 in eighth place in the IndyCar Series championship with 351 points. Sharp completed 3,175 laps during the season, more than any other IndyCar Series driver.

*Sharp's victory in April 2003 at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan was his eighth career victory. He is the only IRL IndyCar Series driver to have won at least one event in each year of competition.

*Sharp was the 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion and the 2001 Indianapolis 500 MBNA Pole winner.

Scott Sharp Quote on the Indy Japan 300

""We had a great trip to Japan last year. My team owner, Tom Kelley, and I had spoken just before the race and we were discussing what a great week it had been for the Delphi team in Japan. We did a lot of work for Futaba, one of our sponsors and they have a very big presence in Japan. They toured us all over the country and we got the inside look---their favorite restaurants, visiting with the Futaba and Delphi employees in their plants and we saw some pretty interesting sights. I remember rolling into Motegi and it was the first time I had ever seen the Twin Ring Motegi track and I thought it was a very cool track. The look of the track and the entire facility was pretty awesome. To top it all off, the Delphi team had a great race weekend. We practiced well and we were very competitive all weekend long. We didn't qualify because of the rain, so we started on points but we had a very strong race. Luckily we were in the right position to be able to capitalize and go for the win when things shook out like they did during the final laps of the race. I don't know why everyone got together; I didn't find it that tough of a track to pass on. For us it's an interesting facility to race, we are fairly easily wide open through turns one and two and that creates a good drafting atmosphere. Down in turns three and four they are much more of a handling nature. So which ever discipline you are going to try and use to pass a guy whether its draft along behind and try to pull out and get him or you're going to try to out-handle him down in turns three and four it provides for a unique race. It was really close racing and sometimes guys got a little too close. I'm looking forward to going back to Motegi and hopefully we can duplicate our success from last year!"

-kr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp