IRL: Fisher, Rice first to make official Indy 500 entries

Preparations for the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 began late Wednesday afternoon with the very first official entry made by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for drivers Sarah Fisher and Buddy Rice. Fisher, D&R team co-owner Dennis Reinbold and...

Preparations for the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 began late Wednesday afternoon with the very first official entry made by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for drivers Sarah Fisher and Buddy Rice.

Fisher, D&R team co-owner Dennis Reinbold and Indy Racing League President Brian Barnhart gathered outside the IRL headquarters on 16th Street for a ceremonial hand-off of the paperwork immediately across the street from the hulking gray stands of the 2.5 mile oval Indianapolis Motor Speedway where the famous race is contested each May.

Fisher returns for an encore performance with D&R after encouraging results at Kentucky Speedway and Chicago land Speedway last summer. She previously drove for the Kelley Racing Team in 2004 before stepping away to try her hand at stock car racing with the Richard Childress NASCAR Grand National West developmental series team.

If she qualifies for the Memorial Day race successfully, it will be her sixth turn behind the wheel of an Indy Car in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," second only to Lyn St James for the most of any woman driver.

Her teammate, veteran driver and 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice will also try to make the field as the team once again expands to two cars for the Indy Car Series season. Ironically, 2004 is the last time Sarah Fisher ran the great race, starting ninth after qualifying her car at a females-only best of 229.439 mph, a record that still stands.

Fisher, bubbly as ever, expressed the exuberance of the moment in words: "I am so excited to be back!" The twenty-six year old has three times been crowned the IRL's "Most Popular Driver" and is the darling of fans nationwide for her spunk and smile.

She continued, saying, "I'm surrounded by a group of wonderful people at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. We've already had two tests and everything is going really smoothly right now. I have an excellent teammate. Buddy and I have worked really well together in the past."

She also hinted, with a great big grin, that preseason private testing has given her new confidence in tackling the road course dates on the coming IndyCar Series schedule.

"As far as it is up to me it's getting a lot closer to me running the road courses," she said.

"I did the test on the road course at Homestead and man did I have so much fun! It was so cool! It was like driving a sprint car again. It was that much fun. Everybody's always asking me what series I truly miss and I always say "sprint car", but man that (the road course) was really, really fun."

Reinbold, who co-owns the racing operation with former Indy great Robbie Buhl, added, "We're really excited about this season. We're basically a revamped, retooled team and have a lot more personnel than we had before. Ramping up to be a two car team is a challenge but with Buddy and Sarah driving for us we think we have a great opportunity to have some great results this year. We're very excited about it."

The team has a history of success at the Speedway, qualifying every one of the thirteen cars it has entered in the event over the years. This year's race will mark their seventh consecutive attempt at joining the 33-car Indy 500 field.

The race will be held this year on Sunday, May 27th. The event is the culmination of a month-long celebration throughout Central Indiana, this year themed "The Spirit of Speed."

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Series INDYCAR