Print and Go Back ESPN.com: ABCSports [Print without images]

Wednesday, May 29, 2002
Nothing compares to Indy spectacle

By Sarah Fisher
Special to ABC Sports Online

Throughout the 2002 IRL season, Sarah Fisher is writing a diary for ABC Sports Online. Last Sunday, Sarah finished 24th in the Indianapolis 500.

I was able to sleep in our Racing for Kids motor home the night before the race, which proved to be an excellent idea. I slept great, although the bomb that went off at 5 a.m. when the gates opened woke me up! I rushed outside in my PJs to see what the big bang was and Mitch, our hospitality guy, was already at work and laughed at how startled I was.

SARAH FISHER
Sarah Fisher
Car: No. 23
Team: Allegra/Dreyer and Reinbold
Hometown: Commercial Point, Ohio
IRL starts: 24
Best finish: 2nd (Homestead, 4/8/01)

If I have the opportunity to sleep at the track in the future, I will definitely do so. No hassles with traffic, and I was able to go back to sleep until about 8:30 a.m., which helped a lot, since I was recovering from the flu and needed all the sleep I could get.

The rest of race morning was spent making a brief appearance for the sponsors at the Racing for Kids hospitality tent, and chatting with a few people, including my dad and mom. There are always a lot of interview requests on that morning, but we limited what we do to one with ABC and Jack Arute and another with the IMS radio network, so I had time to focus on my job.

When you walk out to the Yard of Bricks for driver photographs at 10:30 a.m., the sights, sounds and reality of the importance of the day always hits you. The enormous crowds of people and the spectacle of the pre-race ceremonies always give me an enormous thrill. There is nothing like it in the world.

I walked back to my car and got strapped in and focused. When the command for "Lady and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines" came, I was ready to go. At the green flag, I concentrated on getting through Turn 1 cleanly, as did the other 32 drivers, and we all succeeded on having a good start.

Sarah Fisher
Sarah's next task is get a few rides in 2002 and prepare for the 2003 season.
I started having radio problems on lap 10 when I couldn't talk back to Dane Harte on the radio. This was the first time I had ever had that problem in a race, and it took me awhile to realize that nobody was hearing me. At about lap 50, I could no longer hear Dane or the spotters, and I was on my own from then on out. I had a weight-jacker, which helped me try to make adjustments to the car, but we chased it all day, and without radios, it made it difficult to tune the car to go faster. Unfortunately, my teammate Robbie Buhl had the same problems with his car, but thankfully his radio worked.

I spoke to owner Dennis Reinbold afterwards, and he was laughing at my curious pit stop strategy - but I had to guess at when to stop and how to tell the crew to try and make the car better with hand signals during the short 12 seconds of the pit stops. I also applauded Dane and all the guys for being so much on the ball, because several times they didn't know I was pitting until I was already headed into the pits.

Although my 24th place finish wasn't exactly what we had hoped for, I did finish the race, which was my goal. It was a good chance to get the "not finishing jinx" off my shoulder.

As far as the rest of the season goes, I wish I had something to count on, but as Kenny Mayne pointed out during the 500 Victory Banquet, I am still jobless. It would be wonderful to work with D&R as they are a great tight knit team that welcomed me in with open arms, but sponsorships are hard to come by in the middle of the season. So, for the remainder of this year, I will be at selected events while trying to put enough sponsorship together for the 2003 IRL season.

Lastly, I'd like to thank all of the fans, the media, Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, Allegra, Raybestos, Purex, ATA, Huntington Bank, Tag Heuer, Racing for Kids, Firestone and Infiniti for all their help and support during the Indianapolis 500!