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Indy's women take each other out early news services

INDIANAPOLIS -- The two female drivers in Sunday's 84th Indianapolis 500 had a bit of a catfight in turn one -- and it was caused by a man.

The accident between rookie Sarah Fisher and Lyn St. James on lap 74 happened when another rookie, Jaques Lazier, made a move under Fisher going into Turn 1 and forced Fisher up the track, where she collided with St. James.

Lyn St. James
Lyn St. James' car hits the wall in Turn 1 after making contact with Sarah Fisher's car during on Lap 74.

St. James smacked the wall at the exit of Turn 1. A second later, Fisher hit the concrete in the short chute with a glancing blow. Neither driver was hurt, but both cars were too badly damaged to continue. Fisher was credited with a 31st-place finish, one spot ahead of St. James.

As St. James radioed to her crew that she was OK, the 19-year-old Fisher was tearfully apologizing to her team on the radio.

"I'm so sorry," Fisher said. "Guys, I'm really sorry."

Fisher's car owner, Derrick Walker, consoled his heartbroken young driver, telling her it wasn't her fault.

"Lyn was going around with a boat anchor tied to her car and (Lazier) didn't give you enough room," he said.

A few minutes later, Fisher returned to her garage in Gasoline Alley riding on the back of a motor scooter driven by another team member. She disappeared into her garage for some 10 minutes, then emerged to talk.

When Lazier moved below her, "I was in Turn 1 trying to pass Lyn on the inside," Fisher explained. "Things do not happen very nicely when you try to go three abreast. It was not my fault. I was stuck in the middle. I was a sitting duck in this case."

St. James said her car wasn't handling well before the accident.

"I was driving with my mirrors a lot," she added. "I saw a car coming behind me into Turn 1. I took a defensive line but wanted to stay out of the loose stuff. Whoever it was, I was surprised they would try to force a pass at that point. I'm extremely disappointed that it happened, but I'm even more disappointed it happened under these circumstances."

Fisher was asked if it was ironic that the two female drivers were involved in the collision.

"I don't think it was ironic at all," she replied. "Lyn and I are both race car drivers and that's how we expect to be treated."

Before the accident, Fisher's car stalled out on nearly every pit stop, costing her at least one lap and prompting more apologies to her team. But Walker said the stalls were not her fault, either.

"Something was wrong with the engine," Walker said. "Almost every stop she made, it died. So we were dealing with that -- bringing her in early to try to stop it from happening. These engines are quite easy to stall when you get them into idle when they're all hot. So she was taking the blame for it, but it wasn't her fault."

Walker and Fisher hoped to get her back out in the race, but the suspension damage caused by the encounter with the wall -- although minor -- would have taken too long to repair.

Walker rated his driver's performance as "absolutely excellent."

"Next year, she'll come back and she'll have a lot more confidence," he said. "And she'll take her next step. This is only her fourth IRL race, so she's got a long way to go.

"The atmosphere that's here in Indianapolis is special. Sometimes that can rattle a driver the first time here. So she's experienced the delays, the rain and the audience. And she did it in style and got on with business. And it's a damn shame she didn't have a chance to bring it home with a result."

A glum Fisher added, "It's been wonderful. I've had a great time. We love all the attention we have been getting. I've learned a lot of things here. You can't learn unless you do it. I've got more experience for next year."
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