IRL: Notebook - January 18

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2001 - Scott Sharp posted the fastest unofficial lap in testing Jan. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a speed of 198.3 mph on the 1.5-mile oval. Sharp fastest in Miami test Sharp's best lap in the Delphi ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2001 - Scott Sharp posted the fastest unofficial lap in testing Jan. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a speed of 198.3 mph on the 1.5-mile oval.

Sharp fastest in Miami test
Sharp's best lap in the Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone fielded by Kelley Racing was 27.2 seconds. Sharp, Treadway-Hubbard Racing's Davey Hamilton and Hemelgarn Racing's Stan Wattles tested at Miami in preparation for the inaugural Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami on April 8 at the track, the debut of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series in south Florida.

"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 tires, so everything's going quite well today.

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

But Sharp insists winning the MBNA Pole won't be a priority at this race in April.

"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," Sharp said. "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."

Menard receives new sponsor
Johns Manville to sponsor Menard: Johns Manville, a leading manufacturer of premium-quality insulation and other building products, will be the primary sponsor of Team Menard and driver Greg Ray in the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series.

The company has served as an associate sponsor of Menard's Indy Racing program and a primary sponsor of the team's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team in the past.

"Johns Manville has been a proud sponsor of Team Menard for over 10 years," said John O'Reilly, Johns Manville manager of national accounts. "With the high level of national media exposure, the Indy 500 is a fantastic platform for building JM brand identity." The Johns Manville Indy Racing car driven by Ray will feature a new blue paint scheme.

Texas Tour Media Day
Sharp, Ray heading to Texas: 1996 series co-champion Scott Sharp and 1999 series champion Greg Ray will represent the Indy Racing Northern Light Series at the Texas Tour 2001 Media Day on Jan. 23 at Texas Motor Speedway. Drivers from the eight series that will compete on the speedway's oval, road course and dirt track will appear at the media tour organized by TMS.

On the road
Several Indy Racing drivers will sign autographs and many Indy Racing cars will be on display around the country in the upcoming weeks. A roundup: Jan. 18-21: Indy Racing car on display at Barrett Jackson Auto Auction in Phoenix, site of the season-opening Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 on March 18. Jan. 19: Pennzoil Panther Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. will sign autographs from 1-3 p.m. (CST) at the Nashville Racing Expo. Jan. 19: A Delphi Indy Racing car will be on display at the Nashville Predators' NHL game in Nashville, site of an inaugural Indy Racing event July 21 at Nashville Superspeedway. 1996 Indy Racing League co-champion Buzz Calkins will represent the series at the game. Jan. 20: Bradley Motorsports driver Buzz Calkins will sign autographs from 1-3 p.m. (CST) at the Nashville Racing Expo. Jan. 20: Hemelgarn Racing driver Stan Wattles will sign autographs from 6-8 p.m. (EST) at the South Florida Fair in W. Palm Beach, Fla., not far from Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Indy Racing will make its south Florida debut with the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami on April 8.

Jan. 20: A Delta Faucet/Coors Light/Tae-Bo/Hemelgarn Racing car will be on display at the NAMARS Banquet in Crawfordsville, Ind. Jan. 20-21: A Delphi Indy Racing car will be on display at the Nashville Racing Expo.

Jan. 21: Blueprint Racing driver Jimmy Kite will sign autographs from 1-3 p.m. (CST) at the Nashville Racing Expo. Jan. 21-24: A Pennzoil Indy Racing car will be on display in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway booth at The Super Show at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas. Jan. 24: 1998 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Billy Boat will appear at the Phoenix Open celebrity golf tournament. Jan. 25-28: A Pennzoil Indy Racing car will be on display at the Phoenix Open Pro-Am golf tournament in Phoenix. The car will stay in the Phoenix area, on display at various sites, until the season-opening Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 on March 18 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Jan. 26: Indy Racing driver Tyce Carlson will appear at the Boy Scouts Pinewood Derby at 6 p.m. (EST) Carmel (Ind.) High School. Jan. 27: Reigning Northern Light Series Rookie of the Year Airton Dare will sign autographs from 6-8 p.m. (EST) at the South Florida Fair in W. Palm Beach, Fla. Jan. 31-Feb. 4: A Delphi Indy Racing car will be on display at the St. Louis Auto Show.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Greg Ray , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Jimmy Kite , Tyce Carlson , Stan Wattles , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing