An update on the previous post, this time from USA Today:
Days after Rahal Letterman Racing was served with a breach-of-contract lawsuit by driver Scott Sharp, the Ohio-based team countered with a suit.
Sharp, 39, filed suit in Florida last week seeking his release from RLR, citing the team's inability to be competitive in his first season there.
He finished eighth in the Indy Racing League's IndyCar standings with a best finish of third place (twice) in 2007. Sharp is a nine-time winner in the IRL's top series, but hasn't won since August 2005.
"He's not going to be driving for Rahal next year," Sharp's lawyer Michael R. Josephs said Wednesday night.
You can sue for an "inability to be competitive"? Really? Man, the Arizona Cardinals are gonna have a serious class action lawsuit on their hands with this news.
Seriously though, this doesn't bode well for RLR. Losing Danica Patrick late last year was the tipping point for a team that within two seasons also lost Buddy Rice, and Vitor Meira (as well as Paul Dana under far more tragic circumstances). Halfway through this past season Jeff Simmons was also abruptly let go in what many saw as an attempt to keep the Ethanol sponsorship from going to a more successful team.
So if Sharp and his sponsor are gone that leaves one still driverless car at RLR sponsored by Ethanol, assuming the EPIC(Ethanol) folks don't decide to do the same thing as Sharp and go elsewhere - with or without Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Regardless, The Bobby's Christmas Card list gets even shorter.
UPDATE: From the braintrust at TrackSide Online.
From what we've learned, Patron pays Scott Sharp (or one of his companies), and Sharp then contracts with Rahal Letterman to provide the racing equipment and team (reportedly paying well in excess of $5million to the team per season). Because Sharp is bringing the money, fairly standard practice in this business would be that Sharp's contract would be full of specifics on what the team will provide from an equipment and people standpoint. In short, Sharp is renting a race team, and he gets considerable say in what it'll look like.So this is not unlike renting a car for two days, bringing it back after one day and saying you're going to rent from someone else instead. Just with more zeroes involved. And lawyers.
It's notable that Rahal Letterman let go of engineers Ray Leto and Jeff Britton early in the off-season - it would not be a surprise if this played a part in either Sharp or Rahal's case.
BTW, TSO checked with Panther Racing and they said that Sharp is not on his way to their operation.