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Patron, Panther Racing Scott Sharp team up for Indy 500
Panther Racing announced today it has reached an agreement with veteran driver Scott Sharp and the Patr¢n Spirits Company to enter a car in the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500. Sharp last competed in the IndyCar Series in 2007 with Rahal-Letterman Racing, and is currently having a successful tenure in ALMS, where he is a member of Patr¢n Highcroft Racing.  Sharp will drive the No. 16 Tequila Patr¢n Panther Racing Honda Dallara.

“We’ve been having conversations about having Scott drive for us for the last four years,” Panther owner John Barnes said. “As a team, we’re excited to get this program finalized early so we can be prepared to make a strong run at the Indianapolis 500 this year with the support of Scott and Patr¢n. 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 will team with former Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon, driver of the No. 4 National Guard Panther entry, giving Panther one of the most formidable and experienced driver combinations entering the month of May. Sharp was the polesitter for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing in 2001, Wheldon captured victory at the Brickyard in 2005.

Panther finished runner-up in the Indy 500 last season and led 12 laps at the 2.5-mile oval after qualifying in eighth position.

“I can’t express how excited I am to be back at the Indianapolis 500, especially with the chance to team with Tequila Patr¢n and Panther Racing,” Sharp said. “I want to thank Tequila Patr¢n for all of their support and I am excited to showcase the world’s No. 1 premium Tequila in the world’s biggest race. John Barnes and the entire Panther team are relentless in pushing their cars to the top and that has shown in their results. We will be a great combination.”

Sharp has started a total of 146 IndyCar Series events, more than any other driver in the series’ history. He amassed a total of nine victories, six pole positions and 38 Top Five and 82 Top Ten finishes during his career. The Jupiter, Florida resident has led a total of 1,032 laps in his IndyCar career. Last season in ALMS, he and co-driver David Brabham scored four LMP2 class victories including an overall win at Lime Rock Park. The duo finished first or second in seven of the 11 races that season.

The announcement also marks the return of Patr¢n Spirits to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the ultra-premium tequila brand was a primary sponsor of Sharp in 2007, when he finished sixth – his best career result in the ‘500’. Sharp has made a total of 13 starts at Indianapolis, making his debut there in 1994 driving for PacWest. For his career at Indy, Sharp has collected five Top Ten finishes and completed a total of 1,980 laps, and led the event in 2002 while driving a Delphi-sponsored Dallara.

“Nothing beats the exhilaration and excitement of world-class motorsports racing, and through our numerous racing sponsorships, we’re extremely committed and passionate about this great sport,” Ed Brown, President and CEO of Patr¢n Spirits International A.G., said. “Partnering with Panther Racing and veteran driver Scott Sharp, we’re extremely proud to enter a Tequila Patr¢n car and compete again this year at the biggest motorsport event in the world, the Indianapolis 500!”

Practice for the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 begins on May 5th, with Pole Day Qualifications taking place on Saturday, May 9th. The Indianapolis 500 will be held on May 24th and broadcast live at noon on ABC, IMS Radio Network, www.indycar.com and XM Sirius Channel 211.

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