Sarah Fisher retired from driving IndyCars in 2010, but she hasn't been far from the track since retiring. She began her career as a team owner in the series in 2008, becoming just the second female team owner to compete in the Indy 500 and the first female team owner to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series. In October 2011, just weeks after the birth of Fisher's daughter Zoey, Sarah Fisher Racing went to victory lane for the first time with driver Ed Carpenter behind the wheel in Kentucky.
Carpenter left at the end of the 2011 season to form his own team, but the seat of the #67 entry didn't stay empty for long, as the renamed Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (with the addition of long-time partner "Wink" Hartman to the ownership group) signed 2011 Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden to compete in 2012. Recently announced was the addition of a second team - and a second rookie - for the upcoming Indianapolis 500, the #39 for USAC champion Bryan Clauson. In a recent IndyCar teleconference, Fisher spoke about having two experienced drivers at the wheels for the upcoming race.
"Josef, he's definitely fast," said Fisher, who had nine Indy 500 starts as a driver, the most of any woman. "We've got that going for us. He's done a whole lot on the team side, too. He works very hard, as does Bryan. It's great to marry those two programs together for the month of May. We've learned a lot in the first four events (with Newgarden) leading up to the 500. I really wish there would have been an oval to give these two rookies a little bit of time before we hit Indy. But it is what it is and we've learned quite a bit already. We're really, really happy with that. We've just got to continue to focus on finishing races, achieving that next step."
As a former driver, Fisher is quick to point out how much the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" still means to her: "Indianapolis means the world to me. I give everything to continue to go there year after year in whatever capacity it might be. I've been honored to be there five years in a row as a car owner. That's a very special thing. And then to bring Wink Hartman onboard to join me on the car ownership side, his first experience this year, that will be a lot to share. It's very meaningful, sharing that experience with two rookies who are very talented in their own right and have…credentials that give them the backbone to be there, that's going to be a very special experience, as well."
Clauson will be doing some moonlighting in Indianapolis, as he'll also be competing at Lucas Oil Raceway Park in the USAC race. "We put together last year BC's Bandwagon and had a lot of success when I ran the Lights race on Friday and then the Hoosier 100 on Saturday," said Clauson. "I'll be at the Indy Mile Friday night and excited about it. And IndyCar and USAC and IMS have put together another great ticket package with the Bandwagon deal. It's a great offer. We had a lot of fun on the bus trip last year. I'm excited that everybody enjoyed it enough to bring it back again."
While some team owners might frown upon such a deal, Fisher, whose own background is in USAC and World of Outlaws open-wheel cars, doesn't seem to have a problem with Clauson doing "double duty." "He's very talented in what he does," said Fisher of Clauson. "For me to prohibit him from running in the cars that got him to where he's at with the credentials he has, that would be wrong for me morally in my own light to say that. If something happened, we'd figure it out then."
The 2012 Indianapolis 500 takes the green flag on Sunday, May 27.
Source: Transcript: IndyCar Conference Call - Bryan Clauson and Sarah Fisher," May 3, 2012
Paula is a long-time auto racing fan who also covers the sport at Examiner.com and Skirts & Scuffs.
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