2007 INDYCAR SERIES LINE-UP Scott Sharp And PatrÃ³n Join Jeff Simmons And Ethanol HILLIARD, Ohio - Rahal Letterman Racing (RLR) announced today the signing of veteran IndyCar Series driver Scott Sharp with primary sponsorship from The PatrÃ³n ...
2007 INDYCAR SERIES LINE-UP
Scott Sharp And Patrón Join Jeff Simmons And Ethanol
HILLIARD, Ohio - Rahal Letterman Racing (RLR) announced today the signing of veteran IndyCar Series driver Scott Sharp with primary sponsorship from The Patrón Spirits Company, which completes the team's two-car 2007 IndyCar Series line-up. Sharp, the only driver to compete in all eleven IRL IndyCar Series seasons will pilot the No. 8 Patrón Spirits/Dallara and team with Jeff Simmons who will return to once again pilot the No. 17 Team Ethanol/Dallara.
"The addition of Scott Sharp gives Rahal Letterman Racing an experienced driver to team with Jeff Simmons," said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Racing. "Scott has demonstrated over the years to be one of the most consistent drivers in the IndyCar Series and he is a proven race winner and someone who will be an outstanding representative for our organization and for Patrón Spirits. Jeff came to our team under the most difficult of circumstances, but he met the challenge of filling the void in the Ethanol program both in and out of the car. I continue to be optimistic on Jeff and his future in this sport. His rookie campaign was auspicious simply in the fact that he showed improvement on track while dealing with a difficult set of circumstances off the track. As an organization we are fortunate to be able to pair this driver combination with two world-class corporate partners giving us a foundation for a successful 2007 season and beyond."
"Scott Sharp is a winning veteran, and the perfect compliment for a talented young driver like Jeff Simmons," said RLR co-owner David Letterman. "It's exactly what Rahal Letterman Racing needs. The men and women of RLR have been working hard in the off-season to prepare the team for an exciting, competitive 2007."
"I'm very excited to join Rahal Letterman Racing," said Scott Sharp. "The team has been at the front of the open wheel scene ever since its inception and has proven to win races with different drivers, chassis and series. I can't wait to work with Bobby, the entire team, and with Jeff. I expect us to be a formidable combination! I'm equally thrilled to represent Patrón and expose their highest quality tequila to a very ripe fan base. It should be an exciting year both on and off the track!"
Sharp, a consistent performer who has finished nearly 75% of his races in his 14-year career comes to RLR as the career leader in IndyCar Series starts (129) and with nine wins and 35 top-five starts to his credit. Sharp captured the first IndyCar Series championship in 1996 and has posted eight top-ten championship results in his career.
"The partnership between Patrón tequila, Rahal Letterman Racing, and Scott Sharp brings together the top names in racing with the top name in ultra-premium tequila, and we're honored to be a part of this incredible team," says Matt Carroll, vice president of marketing at The Patrón Spirits Company.
"At Patrón, we're motivated every day by the desire to be the very best at everything we do. From producing our top-selling tequila, to sponsoring and supporting high-profile organizations and events, nothing short of perfection will do," says Ed Brown, president and CEO of The Patrón Spirits Company. "Scott Sharp and Rahal Letterman Racing share this same goal, and we're proud to put the Patrón tequila name on their IndyCar."
Hartford, Connecticut native Jeff Simmons, who started 12 races for the team in 2006, will pilot the other RLR IndyCar Series entry.
"I came to RLR under difficult circumstances, but the team has been extremely supportive and I think as a team we started to come to grips with the Dallara towards the end of the season," said Simmons who made 12 starts for RLR in 2006. "I am looking forward to starting on equal footing with the rest of the field and entering the season with a full winter of testing. The addition of Scott [Sharp] in the Patrón car is a real plus for RLR. Scott brings a lot of experience and that is another great resource for me to draw on as we prepare for the 2007 season."
Simmons finished second in the ICS Rookie of the Year competition, despite starting two less races than winner Marco Andretti. The Hartford, Connecticut native collected a team best four consecutive top-ten results and finished 16th in the championship. Off the track he distinguished himself as an eloquent spokesman for the Ethanol Industry and as an advocate for alternative and renewable fuel sources.
"Jeff Simmons has great capabilities on and off the track," says Tom Slunecka, executive director of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC). "As a driver, he took the Team Ethanol car to six top ten finishes in the last seven races in his rookie year. As a spokesperson for Ethanol, he has the ability to communicate the values of ethanol to all types of consumers. We're proud to have him demonstrating the extreme performance that ethanol can deliver to drivers across this country."
Rahal Letterman Racing will officially unveil its 2007 livery at Spring Training. The team will again campaign Honda powered Dallara chassis with Firestone Firehawk tires.
-credit: rahal letterman racing