Happy Day For Sharp In Indy

They call it Happy Hour for good reason.

More often than not, drivers step out of their machines at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a smile on their face after practicing during the 5 to 6 p.m. hour.

Wednesday evening it was Scott Sharp doing the smiling.

He uncorked a blistering 226.137 mph lap to put Kelley Racing atop the speed charts for the second day in a row. Mark Dismore had the fast lap on Tuesday.

"This car is a hot rod," Sharp said. "I got a real good draft all the way around. The car was flyer, but I think I got a little help."

Help or not, Sharp couldn’t wipe the smile off his face, especially after he suffered a mechanical meltdown Tuesday that badly burned his No. 8 Dallara-Aurora.

"The car was wonderful," he said. "I was amazed at how fast the speed came."

Jaques Lazier was happy, too. He continued to put the No. 77 G Force-Aurora through the paces with impressive results. He turned in a fast lap of 223.310 mph, good for fifth fastest.

TeamXtreme also had other good news to report. Jonathan Byrd, sponsor of Lazier’s Indy-only effort, said the team will announce a major sponsor on Friday that may carry the team throughout the rest of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series season.

"I’ve just never seen any team gel together so quickly," said Byrd, a longtime Indy 500 participant as an owner.

Lazier credited the team, as well.

"These guys are just doing a tremendous job," Lazier said. "The G Force is running absolutely flawlessly. The RPM Engines area running well. I’m ecstatic about everything."

Other drivers in the Top 5 included Tony Stewart second at 225.004 mph in the No. 33 G Force-Aurora.

"We’ve tried everything but switching steering wheels and drivers today," said Stewart, the 26th fastest driver Tuesday.

Greg Ray was third fastest at 223.848 mph in the Team Menard Dallara-Aurora. Arie Luyendyk was fourth at 223.499 mph.

Robby Buhl continued to search for his speed in his Infiniti 35A-powered G Force.

"We’re on a steep learning curve," said Buhl, who has only had a couple of months to work with the new Infiniti engine. "We haven’t had the year we wanted, but things are starting to come together here.

"We’ve got a lot of work to do, for sure, but we’re really happy at where we’re at."

Buhl’s best lap was 221.365 mph. His Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold crew worked hard in the past couple of weeks to get his car ready for Indy practice after he was involved in the 11-car crash at Atlanta Motor Speedway on April 28.

Ray was ready immediately on Wednesday. He came out when the track opened and turned in a 223.848 mph lap just 17 minutes into the session in his No. 2 Dallara-Aurora.

Before the first hour of practice was complete, however, Sharp pulled off his an early hot lap of 224.3 mph. His early time was not eclipsed until he went almost 2 mph faster in Happy Hour.

Practice resumes at noon ET on Thursday.

Race Center

Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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