Sharp Makes The Switch
January 19, 2005 | 9:27 A.M. EST
The new agreement marks Delphi’s eighth straight year of primary team sponsorship, doing so with a Fernandez team that enjoyed great success in 2004, its inaugural year in the IRL. With a new engine and chassis, veteran driver Scott Sharp will return behind the wheel of the red, black and yellow No. 8 Delphi car, where he has been since the company debuted on an IRL car in 1998. He will make the switch to the Panoz-Honda entry.
The announcement was made by Bill Lafontaine, Delphi corporate director of media relations and marketing communications, along with Adrian Fernandez and Tom Anderson, owners of Fernandez Racing, as Sharp and the team run pre-season testing this week in Homestead, Florida in preparation for the Toyota Indy 300, the first of 17 races on the 2005 IRL schedule.
“We are very excited about this opportunity to team up with Fernandez Racing, an extremely talented organization with a wealth of engineering experience,” Lafontaine said, noting how it dominated late in the 2004 season, winning three of the final six races to earn a fifth-place finish overall. “This is a great technical fit for Delphi, and it’s one we feel offers great potential to build on the past successes we have had with the IRL.”
Anderson said that Fernandez Racing is eager to begin the 2005 season with Delphi, which once again carries the dual designation of the official electronics provider and official safety supplier to the IRL. Both designations, he added, are backed by the automotive supplier’s vast technical prowess proven both on and off the track.
“Delphi has clearly demonstrated its technology leadership continuously over the years, which made it a very attractive option for the Fernandez team,” Anderson said. “We feel we have a winning combination here, one strengthened by the veteran capability of Scott Sharp.”
The 36-year-old Sharp has won eight races in his 10-year IRL career, and owns the circuit’s record for consecutive races started, which will grow to 91 with the March 6 event in Homestead. “We have great confidence in Scott, and regard him as one of the sports premier drivers, with a career resume that few can match in the IRL,” Lafontaine said. “We are very encouraged to be heading into the 2005 season with a proven winner at the wheel.”
In addition to Sharp, the Delphi-sponsored car will return Futaba, AT&T and Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems as major associate sponsors in 2005.
This year, Delphi will continue its sponsorship of the Delphi Indy Racing League Safety Team, a unique agreement signed in 2004 that led to the company becoming the firstever “Official Safety Supplier” to the IRL. Innovations introduced last year included cameras installed on board Delphi Indy Racing League Safety Team trucks. Working together with the IRL, Delphi brought this first-ever application to racing to facilitate treatment of injured drivers by providing vital, real-time information to doctors and the rescue team during the safety team’s response to an accident.