Scott Sharp talks about Indy preparations to-date Patr¢n Highcroft Racing’s Scott Sharp filed his latest blog entry to americanlemans.com following Thursday’s first full practice for the Indianapolis 500. He is driving a Patr¢n-sponsored entry for Panther Racing his first 500 since 2007.
I’m pretty pleased with the way the day went but I would have liked to have been a little further up the leaderboard with the Tequila Patr¢n Panther entry.
With a whole day of good weather, we didn't concentrate on going for an outright time today. However, it did amaze me how many guys got into full-on qualifying mode in their first day on the track. By the end of the day guys had their aero completely trimmed right out but we never got to that stage.
With the Panther guys today we worked on a baseline set up and made quite a few changes throughout the day. During happy hour at the end of the day the guys made a bunch of changes. We went out to take a shot at a quick lap but we really ran out of time before the checkered flag came out.
We got out with about 10 minutes to go but I really only got two laps in. It would have been really nice to finish the run and really see what we had but I think there is a lot more speed in the car. I think we should be in pretty good shape Friday.
The team was very methodical during today's running. We'd take a run, make a change, then go back to the garage to make a bigger change and go over the set-up pad again. We're also watching our engine mileage and making sure we don't use up all our tires. We want to make sure we have plenty of ammunition for the weekend for qualifying.
I've had lots of laps around this place so it also really doesn't take me long to get a good read on the car as well.
After the first day of running it is still a little early to know what kind of speed will be required to get into the race and the top 11 on the first day.
There was a lot of drafting going on today and that can give you a false impression sometimes. The good thing for us was all our good laps were run on our own. Many of the guys in front of me got a big draft to record their time. With that in mind, I feel pretty good and quite confident we will move up the leaderboard when it comes to putting down a qualifying run on our own.
Helio (Castroneves) turned a 225mph lap pretty much on his own. I'd say at the moment he is probably the fastest guy. My teammate Dan Wheldon was able to turn mid-to-high 223 mph laps and I think once we are running in the same trim as Dan I think we should be around the same mark. I'm hoping that will be the kind of time that will get the Tequila Patr¢n car into the top 11 on the opening day.
Things have been working out really well with the Panther team. Everything is very open and Dan and I seem to have a very similar read on the car. Dan took part in a Firestone tire test in the fall and we have both been working off that set-up as a baseline.
I'm looking forward to getting back on track tomorrow and hopefully we have seen the last of the rain for the week.
Follow Scott’s return to Indianapolis and at the upcoming Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix exclusively at americanlemans.com.