Fisher Ready for IndyCar Series Kentucky Comeback
The first female pole award winner in Kentucky Speedway history will play the role of "comeback kid" Saturday when the "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Pepsi and Edy's" takes the green flag at 6:30 p.m.
Sarah Fisher, the once bright-eyed rookie who led nine race laps and finished third with Walker Racing in her 2000 Kentucky debut, will return for her sixth career start at the track as a savvy, wide-smiling, 27-year-old owner of Sarah Fisher Racing.
"This seems to be the place to come back for me," said the driver who also made her first of two 2006 series starts at the track.
The first-year team will attempt to rebound from its inauspicious 30th-place showing in this year's Indianapolis 500. Fisher's No. 67 car was left in shambles at the Brickyard after it made contact with the No. 11 of Tony Kanaan as he was trying to avoid the No. 26 machine of Marco Andretti.
A subsequent lost sponsor commitment added to the woes from the team's official debut, but Fisher's appeal, along with support from her team co-owner, husband and crew chief Andy O'Gara, helped the start-up venture land new funding beginning with the "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Pepsi and Edy's."
"It's frustrating to know there are bad people out there who sign something, commit 100 percent, then fail.
"Finding sponsorship has been something I've been a part of, but really not in charge of or directing. It's a really good story for some of these sponsors. They see the value of a small team that's female owned and has a really good plan in place with good direction.
"The good news is we finally found some good people. Knowing there are good people out there, that gives us the faith to keep going forward and doing what we love. Hopefully, we can do real well in these next two events and convince them to come back," Fisher said.
With only one car in her stable, the driver from Commercial Point, Ohio will be hard pressed to display the 2002 Kentucky form that helped her set the standing series track qualifying record at 221.390-mph (24.0661 seconds) before earning an eighth-place finish, but that hasn't dampened her spirit for competing in the series where she's earned three top-five and nine top-10 finishes through 68 career starts since 1999.
"My record here certainly played a part in entering this race. I like this track, I love the facility and I love the people, but it's also more or less my home track because it's so close to my family. A lot people are coming to watch and I thought it would be a great place to launch a new sponsor.
"Hopefully, we can have a consistent run. If we can pull off a top five, that would be a win for us with all the struggles that new business ownership entails," she said.
Regardless of the result, Fisher is proud of the work that overcame the many challenges that stood in the way of bringing her back to the track.
"It's been a lot of long hours. It's a lot of work and it makes your smile even bigger when you come under that tunnel. Certainly, it's something Andy and I and his dad are very proud of, to be able to put together the program that we first weren't going to have," she said.
Fisher is expected to join Danica Patrick and Milka Duno in the "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Pepsi and Edy's," marking the first time a Kentucky Speedway IndyCar Series event will feature three female competitors.
The fifth and final 2008 Kentucky Speedway race weekend opens with IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights Fanfest Aug. 8. Gates open at 3:00 p.m. The day includes practice and qualifying sessions before closing with a garage-area autograph session with competitors from both circuits.
Action continues Aug. 9 with an IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights primetime doubleheader on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway tri-oval. Gates open at 2:00 p.m. Firestone Indy Lights practice begins at 2:30 p.m., and will be followed by an exclusive prerace concert with indie artist Josh Kelley on the Turn 1 Concourse at 4:30 p.m. Sure-to-be-action-packed open-wheel racing begins at 6:30 p.m., with the "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Pepsi and Edy's." The Firestone Indy Lights "Kentucky 100" will take the green flag at 9:15 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now and can be reserved online through the tickets pages of this Web site, by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223), through any Meijer store and by visiting the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 100, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., next to the Montgomery Inn Restaurant or the Sparta, Ky., Fan Center located off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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