We're in the rolling hills of Lexington, Ohio, my home state, of course! So, "Welcome home" seems natural, at least for the surroundings, but not on the road course. I'm still trying to make it a new home.
I think Sam Hornish Jr. and I are the only ones from Ohio. Sam's from Defiance (the only place I have ever gotten a speeding ticket; he must have let them know I was passing through), and I'm from Commercial Point.
We finally had a weekend off! Back to earth and a normal life.
Reconnaissance laps around the track at Mid-Ohio helped me get reacquainted with the place; this is the only road course I've actually been back to. It's much like taking a trip somewhere and you are completely unfamiliar with the streets and turns and everything seems so foreign. But the second and third time you take that route, it becomes more natural for you and easier to navigate. So, Mid-Ohio will be the first and only road course that I have actually been to before.
So, once I got reacclimated with the track, I could begin to understand what the car was doing. The track seemed very slick on acceleration. Mid-Ohio is a 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course and is one of the older tracks we race on. Built around 1962, the track is quite interesting. The garages are so small and are wooden one-bay garages. It was pretty sunny all weekend but quite chilly. Where was my jacket?
I spent a lot of my downtime looking over comparison charts between myself and teammate Buddy Rice. This is the advantage of having a teammate; you can work together to improve yourselves. Buddy has really helped me out on the road courses, and for that, I am truly thankful. I should get him a gift card.
Looking over the comparison charts is much like studying for an exam. I take notes as soon as I get out of the car on things I can improve on to make myself better. I'm a visual person so I like to see everything written down. Some things that I've been working on are carrying more throttle into the center and less braking in Turn 1. In Turn 7 and Turn 8, I need to be more consistent with the throttle. Much like with anything, practice makes perfect.
I was behind the Penske cars for a bit and stayed with them in the final practice session, which really made me feel like I was improving. We qualified worse than what we put our time line at. I was definitely hustling the car more in qualifications and thought that would show on our times, but it was just a slight change from practice. At the end of the day, it's all about seat time and I have none. So, basically, we're just learning as much as we can and trying to get faster and faster every time we hit the track.
Back when I started driving these cars in 1999, everything happened so quickly, but as you get used to it, you start to understand the cars and things start to slow down and you start to pick up more. I'm at that stage again now on the road courses. I'm starting to pick up things on the road courses that I didn't pick up before, so with that said, there is a lot more to learn still. I'm just thankful to have the opportunity to be in it.
During our open test here in June, I ran 73 laps with a top speed of 111.561 mph. During our first practice session of the weekend on Friday (July 20), I ran 112.259 mph over 39 laps and 113.123 mph over 19 laps. Then on Saturday, I ran 114.120 mph over 15 laps in our final practice before qualifications. Then during qualifications, I improved again, clocking in at 114.394 mph.
We finally had a weekend off! Back to earth and a normal life. A few days off were essential and boating consumed my weekend in the sun, of course! I also did an autograph session at New Castle Motorsports Park for the Race 4 Riley. There also is an auction that runs through Aug. 14, with proceeds to benefit Riley Children's Hospital. Auction items range from autographed driver items to donated items. The bidding is limited to Indiana residents, but if you fit the bill, check it out.
On to Michigan this weekend. I'm really looking forward to Michigan and Kentucky, as I've done very well there in the past. We have a totally different car for Michigan, hope it pays off!
IndyCar Series driver Sarah Fisher drives the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing No. 5 Dallara/Honda. She is providing a diary to ESPN.com. For more on Sarah, go to www.sarahfisher.com.