Scott Sharp will return to the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 for the first time since 2007, having encouraged ALMS sponsor Tequila Patron to return to the championship with Panther Racing.
It will be Sharp's 14th Indianapolis 500, a race in which he has five top ten finishes, including one in each of his last three, culminating in a career best sixth last time out in 2007. A former polewinner at the 500 - in 2001 - Sharp remains the man with the most career IndyCar leader, with 146 coming between 1996 through 2007.
Scott, welcome back to the IndyCar Series. Tell us about the decision to come back and compete in the Indy 500, joining a team like Panther Racing that's had success there as well.
Yeah, obviously very excited to be able to get back for the race. Certainly to be having all the support of Tequila Patron, and Muscle Milk is another one of our sponsors, and to be able to come do it with Panther. We talked a few different times in the past. They had a great run last May obviously, had a really good Indy month. So I'm super excited. I think it's probably the best opportunity I've had coming to May. I can't wait to get on track next week.
Obviously you haven't been in the IndyCar Series for a little over a year, racing in the ALMS. Do you think there's going to be an adjustment to get back in the car or is it kind of like riding a bicycle, you just get back on and go?
I hope there's not much. I don't think so. You know, I've been around there a lot, fortunately. Had the opportunity to do the race as many times as I have. I simply love and cherish every lap around that track.
I've dreamt about it so much over the years, I think I could do it in my sleep. So I'm pretty hopeful once I get out there, it's all going to come back pretty quick. We're going to try to run a little bit of ROP as a refresher sort of as a casual way to get back up to speed. I'm expecting that to all come pretty quickly, so...
I'm sure you've been watching the series from afar. It's obviously very competitive, maybe more competitive than it was your last couple years. How tough do you think it's going to be to qualify in the top eleven on pole day?
I think it's going to be pretty tough, for sure. No doubt the series is really competitive. It looks like a lot of the teams have closed up on the top couple teams. Maybe some of the advantages they've had in the past are a little more widely available now. And I think certainly I imagine that five through 15 type spots are going to be really, really tough. It's going to be a tenth of a mile an hour over four laps that's going to be the difference. I'm expecting it to be competitive. There's nothing like qualifying at the Indy 500. Something I've always gotten really pumped up for. I think it's going to be great to be part of it.
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