IRL: Sarah Fisher set for Indy

IRL: Sarah Fisher set for Indy

In February, Kelley Racing announced that it would field a car for the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series perennial Most Popular Driver, Sarah Fisher. Details of that effort for the 88th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race were revealed today at ...

In February, Kelley Racing announced that it would field a car for the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series perennial Most Popular Driver, Sarah Fisher. Details of that effort for the 88th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race were revealed today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Sarah Fisher is surrounded by Bryant marketing manager Debbie Castro and brand manager John Gibbons at the reveal of her Indy challenger.
Photo by Anne Proffit.
Fisher will pilot a #39 Dallara/Toyota/Firestone challenger wearing the colors of long-time Indy 500 entrant Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Indianapolis-based Bryant returns to Kelley Racing for their sixth year of partnership - and the company's 39th year of Indy 500 sponsorship.

In addition to primary sponsorship from Bryant, Fisher's car carries support from Cure Autism Now, Checkers/Rally's restaurants, Motor Trend Magazine, Ft. Wayne Airport, Raybestos and her personal strategic partner, Tag Heuer, the official timekeeper of the Indy Racing League.

The 23-year-old Ohioan owns the fastest one- and four-lap qualifying speed records for a woman in Indianapolis history, setting those marks in 2002. Fisher believes that, "In 2004 I am more prepared than ever for the Indianapolis 500. I am as fit as I have ever been and I'm feeling great about the month ahead." Fisher has been working with Jim Leo of PitFit Training in Indianapolis to improve her endurance and strength.

To prepare for her work with Kelley Racing, Fisher has been in the team's pits at the first two of three races held to date and has worked hard to acclimate herself with personnel at Kelley Racing's North-side Indianapolis headquarters.

Celebrating their 100th anniversary, Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems started their Indy 500 involvement in 1958, sponsoring driver Eddie Johnson's entry to a ninth-place result. Over the years, the firm has backed efforts of Eddie Sachs, Rodger Ward, Scott Brayton and Arie Luyendyk, all of whom have "proudly carried Bryant's colors at Indianapolis Motor Speedway," noted Bryant brand manager John Gibbons.

"This year the Bryant tradition continues with Kelley Racing and Sarah Fisher," Gibbons said. "She generates a lot of energy" for the Bryant brand, recently signing autographs for the company's employees and clients for three hours straight. This is not Bryant's first sponsorship of a woman driver; the firm backed Janet Guthrie's breakthrough at the Brickyard in 1977.

Kelley Racing team co-owner Tom Kelley noted his pleasure to have a second entry in this year's May classic. "Bryant has been an excellent partner to Kelley Racing over the past six seasons and we're thrilled they have stepped up to provide sponsorship for Sarah at Indianapolis," he said.

"A second car can provide valuable engineering information, and it is certainly helpful at the Speedway, where there is a vast amount of data for the team to process," Kelley advised. "Sarah has been competitive in her five seasons of open wheel racing and our hope is that, with the support of Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems she will have a very successful run at Indy in 2004."

Fisher's best qualifying effort on the 2.5-mile historic oval is ninth (2002) and her best finish is 24th in the same year. This will be her fifth attempt to win the Indy 500. "To be at Indy is really special and not to be here would hurt a lot," Fisher revealed. "When I'm not in the car all I think about is getting in one. After Indy is over, we'll see where we're at and go from there."

The team assembled for Sarah's #39 Bryant/CAN machine includes Paul Harcus, team manager for Kelley Racing, who also supervises the #8 Delphi entry for Scott Sharp.

Veteran race engineer Mark Weida, who has successfully shepherded Fisher's efforts in the past will work with her at the Speedway. Weida believes they both have unfinished business. "We worked together with the Gen III Chevy Indy V8," Weida recalled. "We never really had a chance to show what we could do."

When Mike Colliver left Kelley Racing to join Access Motorsports, Fisher took the initiative to suggest Weida as her engineer. Other key crewmembers include Jim Reid as chief mechanic. Brad Brewer, Brian Hornick, Jason Lucas, Tony Mizialko and Luke Wethington.

While Fisher's plans don't include races following the 88th Indianapolis 500, she's hoping a good result can propel this agreement into additional work through the 2004 IndyCar Series season. "Yeah, this is my best chance [to succeed at Indy]. It's really exciting to be with a team with a reputation for doing well at the Speedway. I've been given a great opportunity," Fisher declared. "I'll do the best I can with it."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Scott Sharp , Janet Guthrie , Rodger Ward