Fisher Slated For Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Kentucky Speedway Start
Twenty-five-year-old racer Sarah Fisher will make her first Indy Racing League IndyCar Series start since 2004 in the August 13 "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Secret" at Kentucky Speedway.
The Commercial Point, Ohio, driver is tied for second among female competitors at the track with four career starts. She is one of three female competitors to earn a pole award at the track and one of two to post a top-five finish at the facility. Fisher registered her Kentucky-best third-place finish in her first start at the track on August 27, 2000 after starting fourth. She also grabbed an eighth-place IRL IndyCar Series finish in August 2002. She will make her first IRL IndyCar Series start since the 2004 Indianapolis 500 where she finished 21st after qualifying 19th.
"The announcement that Sarah will be joining our 'Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Secret' field is terrific news," Kentucky Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Mark F. Cassis said. "She is a great competitor and her past success at our speedway will certainly place her in a position to do well. I think she'll find our track has matured since her last visit and she'll have a lot of room to race. Besides the obvious connection to Danica Patrick, I believe our fans will be intrigued to watch Sarah race an Indy car after running stock cars the past couple of years."
Fisher set the current IRL IndyCar Series track qualifying record of 221.390 mph (24.0661 seconds) on August 10, 2002 and became the first female Kentucky Speedway pole award winner as well as the first female to win a pole award for a major North American open-wheel race.
"Kentucky has amazing memories for me," she said. "Not only the track (qualifying) record, the pole, the podium (finish), but the people. There are some special people in that area of the country. Friends, family, they all enjoy being at Kentucky. From what I remember, Kentucky is very bumpy track, but the (racing) line shouldn't have changed much from before. We'll just have to see and hopefully we get over those issues early."
She returns to the series with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing with which she raced her last full IRL IndyCar Series season in 2003. Most recently, Fisher finished 12th in the 2005 NASCAR West Series standings with four top-10 finishes in a Richard Childress Racing powered late model car. She looks forward to battling top IRL IndyCar Series talents such as Marco Andretti, series leader Helio Castoneves, Scott Dixon, Sam Hornish, Jr., Tony Kanaan, Vitor Meira, Patrick, who won the 2005 IRL IndyCar Series Kentucky pole award, and defending series champion Dan Wheldon.
"I'm here to race against everyone. I'm here to do the best that I can and ultimately get back to the level that put me up front," she said. "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 man's world, whether it is in stock cars or Indy cars. I don't look at her any differently then all the other drivers. We are different people who want to achieve the same result."
Overall, seven female drivers have made 23 major series starts at Kentucky Speedway across the ARCA RE/MAX, NASCAR Craftsman Truck and IRL IndyCar series. Evernham Motorsports driver Erin Crocker (ARCA RE/MAX Series, NCTS), Fisher (IRL ICS), Christi Passmore (ARCA RE/MAX Series), Patrick (IRL ICS) Deborah Renshaw (ARCA RE/MAX Series, NCTS), Shawna Robinson (ARCA RE/MAX Series) and Kelly Sutton (NCTS) have combined to take four pole awards, two top-five and eight top-10 finishes.
Crocker generated the best overall performance by a female at the track. She won the pole award for a July 2005 ARCA RE/MAX Series race and finished second. She became the first two-time Kentucky Speedway female pole award winner July 7, 2006 when she started a 150-mile ARCA RE/MAX Series race on the inside front row before finishing 27th.
The "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Secret" will mark the fourth time in Kentucky Speedway history that two female drivers will compete in the same major series race. Crocker and Passmore shared the starting grid for a July 8, 2005 ARCA RE/MAX Series event. Renshaw and Sutton made NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts at the track on July 9, 2005 and July 10, 2004. The race also will mark the second time in IRL IndyCar Series history that two female drivers will compete in the same race. Fisher, then 19, and Lyn St. James, then 53, both started the 2000 Indianapolis 500.
Kentucky Speedway's fourth and final race weekend of 2006 commences August 12 on "97.5 WAMZ-FM Pole Day" with IRL IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series practice sessions and qualifying. Sunday, August 13 will showcase the Indy Pro Series "97.5 WAMZ-FM 100" at 12:30 p.m., and the IndyCar Series "Meijer 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Secret" at 3:45 p.m. Country music group Hot Apple Pie will follow the main event with a concert on the Turn 1 concourse.
The speedway also will host a one-night-only "Summer Night Jam 2006" concert featuring Alan Jackson, Big & Rich, Merle Haggard, Shannon Brown and Deana Carter August 5.
Race and concert tickets are on sale now and can be reserved online at http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com or http://www.tickets.com and by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223). Fans also can reserve tickets through Tickets.com outlets including Meijer stores as well as the speedway ticket offices at 2216 Dixie Hwy., Ste. 200, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., and the speedway Fan Center off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 in Sparta, Ky.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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