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Friday, December 13, 2002
Fisher Diary: Thanks for the support
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. Fisher has not found a sponsor yet, so she watched the season's first race at Homestead-Miami Speedway as an interested fan.
This was the first IRL race I've been to when I haven't been in the car. My team is still looking to secure sponsorship for me to run and we are working very hard, but I wanted to go to the Homestead race to show my IRL support. When I got to the track on Thursday, very few team members recognized me at first. It was a bit scary, but when they learned what I looked like out of uniform, they were all back to their normal selves.
Being there and not participating was a little overwhelming at first. Sadly I witnessed the engine noise I have grown to love and thought how weird it was that I wasn't in some corner with my driver's suit on, watching and trying to figure out a better line or set-up. The reality really hasn't set in yet.
The fans were wonderful. Surprisingly, a lot of fans knew what I looked like in person and many approached me for an autograph. Everyone was positive about the situation and tried to issue words of confidence to keep my sprits up.
I watched qualifying in Turn 4. This was where everyone always has trouble and your line often determines the success of a lap. Therefore it was the most interesting. The consistent lines were mostly in the middle of the track. Too low is never good and too high gets you in trouble. It's hard to describe a line in words, but the good drivers can pick it up naturally.
I was planning to attend the IRL autograph session on Friday, but there was a death at the track that day, and we were told the session was cancelled. But, in the end, the session did take place and if I had known that it was going to happen, I would have loved the opportunity to spend time with my supportive fans.
All of the teams had already heard the news that I wasn't going to be in the car. Most were very supportive and helped me get through the weekend. There were a lot of questions about my situation, which shows so much interest and concern. For this I am thankful. The IRL was just as supportive and did everything to make me feel at home, even letting me watch the race from the spotters stand.
The media coverage I got for not being in the car was almost as much as when I first got in. Over the past two years, I have grown to know a lot of the media involved in the sport and in return they did all they could to help get the word out about our lack of sponsorship and for that I am very grateful.
When you are at the track and aren't participating, it's harder to learn, but from watching above on the spotters stand during the race, I mostly picked up on what some of the new drivers act like during a race. I believe you can always learn something from observing the different strategies that are used in the pits and the different thinking processes in passing on track.
From the spotters stand, I was able to see the entire race and every move that was made. As far as strategy goes, Roger Penske and his team of Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves swept that category, but for all out performance, Sam Hornish Jr. and his Panther team made an impressive statement. They made every pit stop cleaner than the previous one, every breathtaking pass by Hornish was successful and they all-out destroyed any potential for another team to win.
Sponsors in racing are so hard to come by right now. Just because I am a girl doesn't mean they will jump out of the water to get aboard. However, the popularity of my fan base is something that is definitely out of the ordinary and hopefully with all of the support that the fans, media and teams have shown, one of our many leads will evolve into our savior and I'll be back in the racecar very soon, since that is where my heart is.
|Sarah Fisher had to watch from the spotters stand as Sam Hornish Jr. won his fourth career IRL race.|
I'd also like to thank ABC and ESPN for getting me on before and during the race to talk about my situation and try to promote myself as a driver. It meant a lot to me and for that I'm very grateful.
Click here to go to Sarah Fisher's official web site.