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A loaded field
By Sarah Fisher
Special to ABC Sports Online

After a last-minute move by a new sponsor, WeGotGear, Sarah Fisher will race in the IRL IndyCar Series opener on Sunday, the Toyota Indy 300 (ABC, 1 p.m. ET).

While preparing for the race, Sarah took time to write about her preseason thoughts and answered questions from users. At the bottom of the page, be sure to send in your questions for Sarah.

Do you think the new rule changes will place even greater emphasis on driver skills, making passing even more difficult, and some tracks hard to pass at all?
Tom Henry, Peoria, Ill.

I don't think it will put as much emphasis on driver skills as it will put on the combination of preparation and the relationship between driver and engineer to set the race car with a package that is better then all the others. Toward the end of the season, the field should be much closer together as the teams who haven't had much time for testing early in the season will have a chance to figure out the new cars and what they like. This time of the season, it's a race of who can figure out the new packages first.

How has your Lasik eye surgery helped your racing career?
Bob Hutchings, Shiloh, Ill.

Lasik was absolutely the best investment I have made in my career. I never had contacts, always glasses. The precision and accuracy Lasik gives me is second to none. I will never have to worry about my glasses breaking, fogging or the vibration that makes sight blurry!

What is the first thing that goes through your mind when you know you are about to hit the wall?
Kevin E. Baker, Des Moines, Iowa

A phrase I can't repeat! Followed by, "What are we going to have to fix to get going again?"

How do you think all of the added drivers will affect the series this year?
Dustin, Middleburg Heights, Ohio

There will certainly be more competitive cars deeper in the field -- and you are only as good as those you compete against. So, now with the field consisting of the very best in open-wheel racing, the new up and coming drivers will have more examples to learn from and those who already have developed styles will have to perfect them to beat the best.

Which of the tracks that you've raced in IRL has taken the most driver skill? Which do you feel is the most fun to race on?
Eric Kennedy, Greenfield, Ind.

The most skill ... Indianapolis. The precision, the mental focus, the car setup, and engine power -- all need to be perfect to do well.

The most fun to drive on ... Richmond. Coming from the short tracks of America, I was a bit disappointed when I learned that one cannot "hustle" an Indy car. Richmond is the only exception to that rule. I get to go back to my grass roots of racing every June.

With no sponsorship, how many races do you think you will race in this year with the IRL? Do you also feel that with some of the bigger teams moving to the IRL that has hurt your chances of getting the sponsorship you need? I hope to see you race in 2003, and be in the championship run at the end.
Andrew J Francis, Indianapolis

Thank you for your support! I honestly don't know how many races we are going to be able to compete in. Hopefully all of them! In the long run, all of the new teams will help with developing corporate partners, because they will eventually get the IRL sole recognition for being the premier open-wheel series that also encompasses the Indy 500. For now, it's been the same as it was in the past, regardless of the new teams.

Can you describe the feeling of what it was like when you and Felipe Giaffone were battling for the lead at Michigan?
Bart Vanderah, Chicago

Stressful excitement. After that race, I knew that no matter if the car was 100 percent right or not, I have a chance to win.

With all these groups lobbying so hard for membership changes at the Masters, why are women not vehemently backing you publicly? You are a true competitor and totally hold your own every time you are on the track. You are truly a role model and I still can't believe that good teams aren't lining up to give you shot. Good luck from a Fisher Fan!
Claude Clark, Great Lakes, Ill.

I've seen plenty of women who back me in public, from every autograph session and appearance I do to the many, many in the stands who want to see me win at the race track. But I don't believe in being in racing just because of my gender, and never will. I want people to identify me by my ability before my gender. Thank you for your belief and support. I hope with the right chance, I can prove you right.

What does a race car driver do during the offseason?
Nathan Maurer, Upland, Ind.

This offseason has been extremely busy for me. I don't think I have been home more then five days in the last two months. It's mostly travel for my personal sponsors Raybestos, TAG Heuer and SmartBlade that takes up all the time. I have even been going overseas a lot for my Tag Heuer relationship. Certainly, a race car driver has paperwork from various outlets to take care of in the offseason and emails galore trying to secure rides, sponsorships, etc. Lots of phone calls and interviews and then of course trying to get home to see my folks and my dog (Alby). All while trying to get an hour plus a day to stay in shape, and then last, but certainly not least, testing my IRL IndyCar.

How much of a distraction has it been not yet having a major sponsor committed this close to the start of the season? Will the team be able to competitively field two cars without a second major sponsor and/or for how long?
Bill Hodges, Lansing, Mich.

It has been very stressful not knowing what is going to happen, and we still don't know if we'll be at the IndyCar races past Homestead. But I have been in this situation going on four years. So, I have learned to put the stress aside long enough to sleep at night. As far as the Dreyer and Reinbold team goes, Robbie Buhl will have a team better suited toward his driving style, so he should be better off in 2003. The No. 23 car still has to hire the remaining full-time guys that we need in order not to stretch the load of the ones we have. This still might be an issue working on a race-to-race basis. I still have 110 percent confidence in my engineer, Mark Weida, to set the car in unison with what I think.

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