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Indy Racing League




Saturday, October 4

Schedule's full in Cali and beyond
By Sarah Fisher
Special to ESPN.com

Sarah Fisher
Fisher
Ahhh, California … the surf, the sand, the sun … well, make that 'sun' -- we had too much going on the week leading up to the race in Fontana, Calif., to get any surf and sand!

Our first night in California, we took part in the Monday Night Football Show after the Dallas Cowboys played the New York Giants. Since the game went into overtime, they had to tape the interview with IRL driver Kenny Brack and myself to show later in the week… but I did get to meet former Rams player Jackie Slater in the process! Tuesday, IRL driver Dan Wheldon and I were guest hosts on "The Love Line" on KROQ in Los Angeles. During this two hour, syndicated radio show, we 'helped' listeners who called in with questions for Dr. Drew, the relationship doctor, and Adam Carolla, Dr. Drew's comic relief. Wednesday night we stopped by the Speedzone in Fullerton, Calif., to sign autographs and play 'team manager' for my driver peers and fans in a go-kart race.

Thursday was a 'rockstar' day; I helped VH1, along with the other Chevy drivers, count down the week's top hits for their weekly TV spot. I drove one host in the IndyCar 2-seater, and Derek Luke (the actor in Antwone Fisher) counted down with another host. Then I took Derek for a spin in the Chevy Corvette Pace Car. He was a little hesitant, but after a few laps at 170 mph, I think he was just fine!

Somewhere in all that I also got to take Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina the Teenage Witch) in the two-seater -- an unexpected privilege that afternoon. It was great to meet her, and she has raced a little before, so we found we had a lot to talk about.

Sarah Fisher and Melissa Joan Hart
Sarah Fisher gives driving tips while Melissa Joan Hart tells bewitching tales of her own.

Finally, I got to wind down in a hula hoop contest at the Raceway Rendezvous, put on by the Fontana Speedway. With a silent auction of driver paraphernalia to raise money for the CARA charities, a 'Route 66' theme with 60's décor, and seeing Tony George (the CEO of the Indy Racing League) and Brian Barnhart (the Senior VP of Racing Operations) dressed up like Elvis's, it was a great ending to a week full of good times.

Friday, reunited with my #23 Dreyer and Reinbold GMAC/AOL car, it was time to get on the track to practice. I didn't race in Fontana last season, but we tested here at the beginning of the season, so we came in with some insight as to what setup would work. An internal engine problem with the fuel injector though created a small fire, so, with a new engine in place, we were only able to complete 1 lap to finish out the practice session. We were able to practice in the 2nd practice session but were at the back of the pack.

On Saturday the car was running about the same as Friday so we made some minor changes such as wing turns and tire changes. We qualified a little better than we had expected with the setup we are running right now. We snagged the 18th position reaching more than 222 mph.

Race day was a long day. We had our hands full of difficulties starting with some heavy push at the drop of the flag. This was a big track and we had inconsistent laps due to our car setup, the slippery surface and varying winds. Because of the push along with the car being loose -- we tweaked the tire pressure, front and back -- but all we could do was just drive the car we had. It was a tough race, but afterward Melissa Joan Hart came and hung out with us while we were shooting some footage for my regular gig as the IRL Insider on AOL Sports. That helped raise my spirits!

In-between the race in Fontana and the upcoming final race in Texas, I have kept busy with sponsor meetings and appearances. I was honored to attend General Motors' opening of a new wing of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., dedicated to transportation. It was memorable, and really put into perspective the industry and its history that I contribute to on a daily basis.

We will be heading to Texas in the middle of this week for the Fan Jam, put on by the Texas Motor Speedway on Thursday night from 6-10 p.m., where we will be signing autographs. On Friday we will be celebrating Lee Jeans Denim Day where you get to wear jeans to work in return for a $5 donation, all in the name of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The entire Indy Racing League and my fellow drivers and teams are supporting this cause -- it will be a very special day at the track. Saturday, from 4-5 p.m., I will be signing autographs for 300 lucky fans, on behalf of Chevy Racing. Participate in the Champion's Challenge throughout the day near the Fan Experience and you might get a ticket to come!

The IRL IndyCar series is the most competitive it's ever been and it will be really exciting to find out who snags the points championship after the race in Texas -- this Speedway is one of the best places to experience a race both at the track or on ABC, so check your local listings!

To wrap up this diary, I would like to note that for the entire race weekend in Fontana, my car had a decal honoring the late Gov. Frank O'Bannon of Indiana. I had attended his unveiling of the new Indiana state quarter which featured an Indy Car event last summer, and I was also fortunate to interact with him when my teammate Robbie Buhl and I drove visiting Governors around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in special edition corvettes a couple of months ago. O'Bannon was a wonderful man, and he passed away the Saturday before the Fontana race from a stroke. We want his family and many friends to know we have them in our thoughts and prayers.

IRL IndyCar Series driver Sarah Fisher drives the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing No. 23 Dallara/Chevy. She is providing a diary to ESPN.com. For more on Sarah, go to www.sarahfisher.com.

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