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Sharp back Indy 500 with Patron, Panther.


Former Indianapolis 500 polewinner Scott Sharp will take a break from his sportscar duties with Patron Highcroft Racing to return to the blue riband IndyCar Series event this May, bringing Tequila Patron backing to a second Panther Racing entry.

Sharp last competed in the IndyCar Series in 2007, running with Patron and Rahal-Letterman Racing, but switched to the American Le Mans Series after an acrimonious end to the relationship. He currently partners David Brabham in the Patron-backed Acura ARX-02a, taking the marque's first LMP1 victory in St Petersburg last weekend after a successful LMP2 campaign in 2008.

Sharp will drive the #16 Panther-entered Dallara alongside team regular Dan Wheldon when the 'month of May' kicks off at Indianapolis.

“We've been having conversations about having Scott drive for us for the last four years,” Panther owner John Barnes revealed, “As a team, we're excited to get this programme finalised early so we can be prepared to make a strong run at the Indianapolis 500 this year. We certainly feel like Scott is a very capable and experienced driver, and he and Dan Wheldon will really be a force during the month.”

Sharp and Wheldon, who rejoined Panther to drive the #4 National Guard Dallara this season, giving Panther one of the most experienced combinations on the entry. Sharp was the event polesitter in 2001, while Wheldon captured victory at the Brickyard in 2005, en route to the IndyCar Series title. Panther, meanwhile, finished as runner-up in the last season's Indy 500, having led twelve laps late on in the hands of Vitor Meira.

Sharp remains the most experienced driver in IndyCar Series history, having amassed 146 starts and collected nine victories, six poles and a share of the inaugural IRL championship, in 1996, with Buzz Calkins.

“I can't express how excited I am to be back at the Indianapolis 500, especially with the chance to team with Tequila Patrón and Panther Racing,” Sharp said, “I want to thank Tequila Patrón for all of their support. John Barnes and the entire Panther team are relentless in pushing their cars to the top and that has shown in their results, and I think we'll be a great combination.”

The announcement also marks Patron's return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where it acted as Sharp's primary sponsor with RLR in 2007. The veteran finished sixth that season, his best career result in the 500.

Practice for the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500 begins on 5 May


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Indy Racing League. 20-22 July 2007. Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. Lexington, Ohio. Scott Sharp.
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Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to pole at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon leads the Indycar field   [pic credit: Indycar media/Bret Kelley]
Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/JOE SKIBINSKI]
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi [credit: IndyCar Series]
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi [credit: IndyCar Series]
Scott Dixon sprays the champagne in Victory Circle following his win in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon is congratulated by Dario Franchitti after winning the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
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Scott Dixon celebrates his victory in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon wins the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship, his fourth series championship of his career. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Ernie Masche/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon (left), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, after winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Joining him on the podium is Charlie Kimball, driver of the #83 Novolog Flexpen Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 who finished third. Chevrolet won its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Perry Nelson/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon - 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion - Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)

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