Friday, December 13, 2002
It's great to be back
By Sarah Fisher
Special to ABC Sports Online
Throughout the IRL season, third-year driver Sarah Fisher will write a diary for ABC Sports Online.
It's been an exciting week for me, and a lot has gone on that I'd like to update you on.
I'm very proud to announce that I'll be running the rest of the IRL season in the No. 23 car for Dreyer & Reinbold racing -- the same team I drove for at Nazareth and Indy. My car will have primary sponsorship beginning at the Kansas City Indy 200 race from SmartBlades, premium wiper blades, which are made by Old World Industries.
Additional associate sponsors for my car include Allegra and Purex, who are returning from our Indy ride, and new associate sponsors Jack K. Elrod Company and Old World Industries' brands Splitfire Spark Plugs and Peak Antifreeze.
Our deal came together very quickly and there are a lot of people who are responsible for making this happen including the IRL marketing folks, the Dreyer & Reinbold team and Protential Marketing.
We went to the ESPNZone in Washington on Tuesday to announce our deal, with the addition of SunTrust Bank as the primary sponsor for the Richmond Race. On Wednesday, I attended a luncheon at SunTrust headquarters with the bank executives and Richmond track officials, and expressed my sincere thanks to them for their support in helping me get to Richmond.
On Thursday, I went to the racetrack to meet my new crew. I'll have Mark Weida as my engineer and Dan Miller as the chief mechanic for the rest of the season, and they are both very experienced at their jobs. Both of them worked on Robby Gordon's Indy 500 effort and have been around Indy Car racing for a long time.
Friday was our first day on the track, and we spent the first and second practice sessions getting the car comfortable around all four corners of the track. Richmond is tricky. Even though the car can handle well in Turns 1 and 2, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be good in 3 and 4 as well.
Qualifying began at 6 p.m. since the race would be at night. Although the track conditions were quite different than they were during the day's practice sessions, we ended up 15th on the starting grid, which is pretty good considering Dreyer & Reinbold hadn't tested at Richmond this year. My teammate, Robbie, had a little more trouble getting his car comfortable during qualifying and started 20th.
On raceday, we had our final practice session during the heat of the day and we didn't spend too much time tuning the car since track temperatures would be so much cooler during the race. After practice, I spent some time with my dad and his Silver Crown team, and then visited two different groups of SunTrust VIP's.
Finally, it was time to race.
Car: No. 23|
Team: Allegra/Dreyer and Reinbold
Hometown: Commercial Point, Ohio
IRL starts: 25
Best finish: 2nd (Homestead, 4/8/01)
When it started, the car wasn't that comfortable due in large part to the big chunks of rubber that were on the surface from the other series cars that ran before us on the track. Once that rubber wore off and we made a few wing adjustments to the car, it was really comfortable and racy.
After our second-to-last stop, I was running very quick, consistent laps and was catching the pack of cars in front of me. I was also able to out-run Eddie Cheever Jr. and the cars in that group behind me.
On our final pit stop, we changed to a fresh set of tires and re-fueled. When I went back on the track, I didn't give my tires enough time to come up to temperature and I went a little too far down on the apron and lost it in Turn 4. The car spun and hit the outside wall and our day was done. Thankfully for our team, the damage was minimal and was mostly to the suspension. However, the guys will have to work hard to get ready for our race this Sunday at Kansas Speedway (ABC, 1 p.m. ET) and I really thank them for that.
It's great to be back and know that I have a ride for the rest of the season. I'm really excited about our chances to put the No. 23 car in victory circle. So keep watching -- because we will be there and we hope to see you at the track.
|Sarah's car didn't sustain much damage in her crash Saturday night, and she should be ready to run in Kansas City this week.||