Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines 1. IZOD IndyCar Series Q & A - March 17 2. Tagliani, FAZZT have strong debut *** 1. IZOD IndyCar Series Q & A - March 17: IZOD IndyCar Series owner/driver Sarah Fisher and...
Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. IZOD IndyCar Series Q & A - March 17
2. Tagliani, FAZZT have strong debut
1. IZOD IndyCar Series Q & A - March 17: IZOD IndyCar Series owner/driver Sarah Fisher and IZOD IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal participated in a Q&A session to discuss their recent announcement that will place Rahal in Fisher's No. 67 Dollar General car for the races at St. Petersburg, Fla., and Barber Motorsports Park. Below are select quotes from the interview. The complete transcript and audio MP3 file are posted at www.indycar.com/media.
* 21-year-old native of New Albany, Ohio will compete in his third season in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010.
* Will drive the No. 67 Dollar General car at St. Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park for Sarah Fisher Racing.
* Became youngest pole winner in IZOD IndyCar Series history when he won the pole at St. Petersburg in 2009.
* Became youngest race winner in IZOD IndyCar Series history when he won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in 2008.
* 29-year-old native of Commercial Point Ohio will compete in his 11th season in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010.
* Serves as owner/driver of Sarah Fisher Racing, a third-year IZOD IndyCar Series team which will field cars for Jay Howard (five races in No. 66 car), Graham Rahal (two races in No. 67 car) and Sarah Fisher (seven races in No. 67 car) in 2010.
* Became first female driver to win an pole in the IZOD IndyCar Series when he earned the pole at Kentucky Speedway in 2002.
Q. Sarah, It's always a tough decision for the driver to give up the seat to their car, especially one that you own. How did the decision come up to step aside and put Graham in the car?
SARAH FISHER: I had two tests this winter, getting ready for the road courses and we're doing one--offs this year. We don't have a complete full schedule, and with that didn't ---- the first test they didn't go that great.
So I went back to the hotel and just thought about it. And I reached out to Rick Dreiling over at Dollar General and said what do you think about this idea, and he was very supportive of it. And so we started discussing who was available.
And Graham was. So it all just worked itself out from there.
Q. Graham, it's been a pretty difficult offseason looking for a full-time ride but you're ready to go next week in St. Pete and driving for Sarah.
GRAHAM RAHAL: Obviously, it's extremely exciting for me, and the call came from Andy O'Gara, Sarah's husband. When I got it, it was a complete shock. Things were looking really ---- it wasn't looking good for us to make St. Petersburg or Barber.
And so obviously being that there was one race, other than the 500, I don't want to miss every year is St. Pete. So when the opportunity came from Sarah and obviously Dollar General for me, I just had to jump right at it.
Extremely excited and obviously very enthusiastic about everything that's gone on at or with SFR so far. And I think as we look to St. Pete and Barber, I think a lot of people are pretty optimistic.
I feel like we should have a pretty good run at both places.
Q. You're both two proud natives of Ohio. I know that you had your own hero to look for when you were a kid, and that was your father. But how much did you really hear of Sarah when she was climbing through the ranks coming up, getting a ride with Derrick Walker at that time? Was she somebody from Ohio, kind of paid attention to? Because other than your father, I mean, like I said, you Buckeyes kind of stick together.
GRAHAM RAHAL: It's kind of easy, truthfully, because Sarah and I joke around, I was at Circleville, Ohio, where we both kind of started.
So it's easy for us. I think the connections go pretty far back. Actually, one of the Fishers --- I don't know if Mike is your cousin, but he's worked for my dad and has for a long time.
And a guy who works for my family, Jason Temple, used to race go-karts down at Circleville. So for many, many years obviously known about Sarah and followed her, and certainly I think the local media is very proud of what we've done.
So it's pretty cool for me to sit here and be in this position. Although I signed my contract with Sarah and then she decides to throw on me that I have to introduce her to Jim Tressel, otherwise I'm not allowed to drive.
Q. Sarah, touch on the Ohio connection between the two of you.
SARAH FISHER: It's incredible. We really didn't think about it until after the fact, or at least I didn't. And talking with Rick and our partners and just what Graham has done in this sport as an athlete, as a driver, his contributions already at such a young age.
And then after we get done, I'm like, "Oh, by the way, he's from Ohio." It's really neat to have this team teaming up together and being able to go after the two races and being from the same place. I don't think you find it very often in sports. So it's a neat affiliation.
Q. Obviously both of you guys have made some important history in IZOD IndyCar Series, Graham being the youngest racing pole winner and Sarah being the first female pole winner I believe in open--wheel racing. Since this deal, when you had time to yourselves, did you have thoughts in your head, like if we do our best and a few things break right, we could be rewriting the record books again?
SARAH FISHER: I think so. That's a big picture. Graham says it best that we're quietly optimistic. But the whole point of what we're trying to accomplish here is really big picture thinking with the team and where it's going. And trying to have a shot at having good results.
And I didn't see that as being a part of the big picture when I was testing at Barber. So obviously my team is a whole lot more important to me than my ego, and Graham's going to do a better job than I would have at the wheel for those two particular events.
So there's a hope that he comes away with that we're going to be proud of and they're going to shine no matter what. And it would be really great to rewrite the books. I think Dollar General would be really happy about that.
GRAHAM RAHAL: I think I feel the same. And I think a lot of the credit has to be given to Sarah, I think, for the way that she's thought about this. And no matter what, no matter where I end up in the future, what happens, the way that the team has approached this situation, myself in particular, I think they deserve a lot of credit.
And I think that no matter what happens, we'll certainly try to do what we can to help Sarah and help Dollar General and the program as they move forward and who knows what can happen in the future.
As I said, I think this is a starting point, but I'd love to see where things go. And hopefully we can go out there and open some eyes and ears over the next couple of weeks, the next couple of races, and I think we've got a great opportunity to do so.
So I'm really looking forward to it, and, I don't know, has there ever been a female owner, race team owner that's won a race. So hopefully we can make something happen.
2. Tagliani, FAZZT have strong debut: Alex Tagliani and his new FAZZT Race Team made a promising debut in the IZOD IndyCar Series over the weekend, qualifying second to Dario Franchitti. However, his hopes for a debut win were dashed.
Tagliani ran second to Franchitti until lap 19, when he was passed by Ryan Hunter-Reay. Tagliani was still running in the top five when he was hit by Dan Wheldon's Panther entry following a restart from a full-course caution. The impact knocked the Bowers and Wilkins-backed car into the outside barrier and into Tony Kanaan and ended Tagliani's race on the spot.
"We definitely came here and showed what we can do, but it's always a shame to finish like this - especially when it's out of your control and it's a race incident that could have been avoided," Tagliani said. "I'm a little bit bummed out but I'm also relieved that we came here to our first race and we were on the front row. That is a huge accomplishment for everyone and a good tribute to all the work everybody has done."
The performance buoyed Tagliani's confidence as the series heads to another challenging street circuit in St. Petersburg, Fla. - site of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
"We are anxious to go back and race again because we know we can do it and I think we will be pretty strong on the road and street courses like St. Petersburg, Barber, and Long Beach," Tagliani said. "It's very exciting and we can't wait to get back racing. I'm still just a little disappointed because the Bowers and Wilkins was a car to finish in the top three without doing anything special, so it's going to be a long two weeks to wait for St. Petersburg and to get back to racing."
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues March 28 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season opens with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 28 on the streets of St. Petersburg. The race will air live on indycar.com.