Indy Racing League report
(Aug. 13, 2006) IndyCar Series veteran Sarah Fisher made a joyful return to open-wheeled racing Aug. 13 with her last-minute entry in the Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Secret.
Photo by Don Ward
ABC-TVs Jamie Little (left) interviews
returning IRL driver Sarah Fisher Aug. 13
as she holds the helmet that dozens
of her fans had signed.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced Aug. 3 that Fisher would drive the No. 5 Honda-powered Dallara in the race at the Kentucky Speedway. Her return to the series created additional excitement for fans, especially since she joined fellow female driver Danica Patrick in the field.
Its very exciting to have Sarah back in the car at Kentucky Speedway, said team co-owner Dennis Reinbold. We believe that it is a very good track for her, and with the momentum our team has been building, a good result is what we are looking forward to. Its always a pleasure working with Sarah, and this time will be no different.
Fisher was reunited with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, for whom she drove in 2002 and 2003. She debuted with a fourth-place finish at Nazareth Speedway substituting for the injured Robbie Buhl in April 2002 and later that year, became the first female to start on the pole, which she earned at the Kentucky Speedway.
Patrick, who started from the pole last year at Kentucky Speedway, drives the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Dallara-Honda-Firestone.
In 48 starts, Fisher has seven top-10 finishes and has been running at the finish in 27 races. Her highest finishes are second at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2001 with Walker Racing and third at Kentucky Speedway in 2000 the highest for a female driver in the series.
The Commercial Point, Ohio, native fueled national headlines when she emerged in the IndyCar Series at 19 years old. The determined racer became a household name and was coined as the girl next door chasing her dream of winning the Indianapolis 500.
I am really looking forward to the opportunity to get back into an IndyCar, said Fisher, who last competed in the IndyCar Series in 2004 in the Indianapolis 500 with a Kelley Racing-prepared car. It has been some time and there is a lot of catching up to do.
Fisher had set a personal goal of finishing in the top 10 at Kentucky, however, she struggled throughout the race and ran near the back of the 19-car field. She finished 12th.
Fisher, who started 12th at Kentucky, fell as far back as 18th early in the race, but flirted with the top-10 on two occasions. She passed Jeff Simmons on a Lap 195 restart to claim 12th.
We had a little bit of trouble with straight lines, she said. I dont know if we put on too much downforce or what. Well review that and try and figure it out. We had a good race car down low, and I got a run on some guys. The draft now is different when they cut you off; so that is something Ill have to think about for the next go-around.
A few days after the race, her officials with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing confirmed that Fisher would drive the No. 5 Honda-powered Dallara in the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 10.
Patrick, meanwhile, finished eighth at Kentucky.
Photo by Konnie McCollum
Sarah Fisher enjoys the attention from
race fans upon her return to the IndyCar
Series at the Kentucky Speedway.
In 2000, Fisher became the youngest female and third-youngest driver ever to compete in the Indianapolis 500. It was the first time two women had raced in the same event.
Im here to race against everyone, said Fisher, who was attending the Lyn St. James Women in Winners Circle event in Indianapolis when the team made the announcement. Im here to do the best that I can and ultimately get back to the level of IndyCars that put me up front.
Every driver out there has the same goal and drive that I have and that is to win. Danica and I are two individuals out there competing in a mans world, whether it is in stock cars or IndyCars. I dont look at her any differently than all the other drivers. We are different people who want to achieve the same result.
Fisher calls the Kentucky Speedway her home track. She still holds the track qualifying record (221.390 mph).
Kentucky has amazing memories for me, Fisher said. Not only the track record, the pole, the podium, but the people. There are some special people in that area of the country. Friends, family, they all enjoy being at Kentucky.
Fisher, 25, attends Ellis College on a part-time basis pursuing a business undergraduate degree and is engaged. She is the fourth driver to take to the wheel for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing this season. Buddy Lazier drove in eight events, Al Unser Jr. drove a second entry for the team at the 90th Indianapolis 500 alongside Lazier, and Ryan Briscoe is competing in four events for the team, including the final road course of the season at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 27.
I miss my fans so much you have no idea, Fisher said. I think I appreciate them more than I ever did. Two years later and I still have people that remember more than I do about my past experiences. It is a life-changing experience to realize that you impact people and how much responsibility that is and what a good person you need to be for these people to look up to.
As she prepared for her return, Fisher added some excitement for fans by allowing them a unique opportunity to ride along. Fans signed Fishers racing helmet during the Aug. 12 IndyCar Series driver autograph session.
Im allowing my fans to sign my helmet that I will wear in the race on Sunday because I want to carry them with me the whole way, Fisher said at her autograph session.
My fans have always been so supportive of my racing efforts from the time I started racing. I have missed them so much that I want them to be on board with me during the race so we can compete in the race together.
On race day, Fisher wore a white helmet signed by her fans. Space on the helmet was offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.