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INDY RACING LEAGUE MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 9, 2006
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have three guests joining us today as we prepare for race weekend at Kentucky Speedway. Indy Pro Series driver Travis Gregg is with us to start the calling while IndyCar Series drivers Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher will join us in just a few minutes.
Travis is returning for his third Indy Pro Series start of the season. He'll be driving the No. 77 Lucas Oil/Argosy Casino for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Travis made his Indy Pro Series debut at Kentucky Speedway in 2004, winning the pole, leading 57 laps before finishing fifth that year. Last year he qualified on the pole again at Kentucky and led all 67 laps en route to his third career victory. Kentucky is basically a home track for Travis. He lives in nearby Camden, Ohio.
Travis, we've seen you a couple times this year. You ran two races earlier this year with Michael Crawford Motorsports. How did the deal come together to get back with Sam for this race?
TRAVIS GREGG: After the Nashville event, I spoke with one of the guys on the crew about the possibility of running their fourth car because it's Jay's backup car. We just went from there. They kind of knew I was interested in driving it, talked to Sam about the possibility of doing it. That was a good place for me in the past.
He knows that I didn't have a couple good starts this year, so he was interested in seeing me get into one of his cars hopefully do a little bit better.
THE MODERATOR: We know Sam always puts competitive cars on the track. Even though you haven't been in the car a lot this year, obviously your first time ever in the car you were able to put it on the pole in Kentucky. How do you feel about your chances this weekend?
TRAVIS GREGG: I feel pretty good because I have the same engineer that I've had for the past year. Blair Perschbacher is his name. You know, he knows my driving style, he knows how I like the car. On that end of it, I feel pretty good about it, feel pretty confident.
THE MODERATOR: Last year you had a large contingent of friends and family come down to help you celebrate. Expecting a similar turnout this year?
TRAVIS GREGG: Yeah, maybe not quite as many. Not that many really know. They know I'm racing this race, but they didn't really know about me racing a lot this year, since I haven't really been in the car for the full season.
I'll have a fair amount of friends and family there.
THE MODERATOR: Tell us just a little bit about what the future holds for you. Are you expecting to be at any of the three final races this year or anything in the works for next year?
TRAVIS GREGG: Nothing in the work. This year hasn't been the best with me and racing. Sponsorship money is a big part of that. I'm happy to be back in the car here at Kentucky where I've had some success.
As far as next year, nothing in the works right now.
THE MODERATOR: Let's go ahead and open it up for some questions for Travis.
Q. I assume you've been following the series even when you haven't been at the track. Do you sense the level of competition is higher this year?
TRAVIS GREGG: I think it is. I think from a road course standpoint, you got a lot more people involved that have more road course racing backgrounds. I think it is a little bit more competitive than last year.
Q. I know you had trouble with the sponsorship. Do you think there has been more interest in the series in the last 12 months or six months than there had been when you first started looking at it?
TRAVIS GREGG: Yeah, I think so. Part of that is the involvement of the IndyCar teams that field the Pro Series teams. It narrows the gap between the IndyCar Series and the Pro Series. It just makes it more appealing.
Q. You don't race too many road courses. What is it like to go to Sonoma, one of the last races of the year, one of the tougher road courses you do?
TRAVIS GREGG: Well, unfortunately for me, this is my only race that I have scheduled. Unfortunately, I won't be going out to Sonoma.
Q. In the past I assume you've run road courses. Can you tell me how you prepare for that as opposed to going out for a regular oval.
TRAVIS GREGG: You prepare pretty much the same way. Myself, road courses proved a little bit more of a challenge than the ovals last year. You take it just like any other race. You try to get the car really good in practice and qualifying, then just try for a consistent car during the race.
Q. What other racing have you been doing this year?
TRAVIS GREGG: I've been in a Sprint car a couple times now at Lawrenceburg Speedway in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. As far as that, the other two Pro races earlier this season.
Q. Completely different vehicles. How do you translate between the two?
TRAVIS GREGG: There's really not much similarity between the two. Sprint cars are a front-engine car with a lot of power. The ones I race are on dirt. You really can't take one -- a lot from one car to the other. It's kind of hard to say anything similar about the two.
Q. Have you spent any time in karting this year at all?
TRAVIS GREGG: Yes. I have a shifter kart, 125 cc shifter kart. I practice on that out at Camden, Ohio, where my family has a go-kart track. I go over to Newcastle, Indiana, Dismore's track, try to stay sharp and practice on that. I was actually on it the other day, yesterday.
THE MODERATOR: Travis, thanks for joining us again. Good luck this weekend.
TRAVIS GREGG: Thanks.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined now by Danica Patrick. Hello, Danica. Welcome aboard. Danica, of course, ranks 10th in the IndyCar Series points here heading into Kentucky. She had back-to-back fourth-place finishes at Nashville and Milwaukee before a late-race problem cost her another top 10 finish at Michigan a couple weekends ago. Of course, she was the polesitter at Kentucky last year.
Danica, let's first talk a little bit about sponsorship. The Kentucky race is the Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and Secret. Those are three companies that are also involved with you on your car. How important is it to you just to have those sponsors get involved in a broader fashion?
DANICA PATRICK: I think the more sponsor involvement there is, the better it is for me, for the series, for themselves. You know, activation is what gets them the best bang for their buck. I'm glad they're acting.
THE MODERATOR: Kentucky was one of three places where you won a pole last year. Of course, Sarah Fisher also won a pole there a few years ago. I'm sure you've probably already started hearing some people trying to compare the two of you. What are your thoughts heading into the race about Sarah coming back to the series this weekend?
DANICA PATRICK: The first thing I think about is car count. I think the most important thing for the series, that we get the car count up and keep -- that keeps the fans entertained. The more action you see, the better off we all are.
THE MODERATOR: One other topic that has received a lot of attention in the past couple weeks is the announcement you'll be heading to Andretti Green Racing next season. Has that been a distraction for you or for the team as you've prepared for Michigan and Kentucky?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, I mean, I don't think those kinds of things coming out are ever a great thing for the people that I'm with as far as me leaving. It's never nice.
But on the other hand it is business and it is kind of what happens every now and again. You get a driver announcing they're leaving. Especially with me and how much speculation there was. I was surprised how much there was, but there was quite a bit. It made it that much harder to keep secret, keep contained, answer the same questions over and over again. I stopped having new things to say. It was difficult.
I think for me and the team, it's best that it's all over with and we can focus on the racing. I'm not going to lie. Not everybody within the team feels -- you know, it's not the same because they know I'm leaving, but on the other hand they're professionals and they're handling it, they're doing a great job.
THE MODERATOR: Let's open it up to some questions for Danica.
Q. The first year and a half that you have been in the IRL racing IndyCars, when the subject has come up about you winning your first race, you've always responded with a very calm, It will happen when it happens. We've noticed over the last few races you've been putting quite a bit of pressure on yourself to get that first win. We want to know more about why that is?
DANICA PATRICK: I don't think that I've been putting more pressure on myself over the last couple of races. I am pleased. Whenever you are doing better, you feel you're that much closer to a victory. But, you know, I've been very excited over the last couple weeks, especially because we've been performing a little bit better. Obviously, the end of the race in Michigan, the last one, was fairly disappointing. Nobody wanted me to run out of fuel, it just happened. My crew, the engineers had no data the whole race, so they were definitely doing the best they could.
I mean, I always put pressure on myself to get the most out of myself and the car. I don't really feel like it's been much different over the last couple of races. I just feel, you know, you feel that little bit of anticipation the closer you get to the front.
Q. Last year at Sonoma, you had an early and disappointing exit. Are you looking forward to getting back here and showing what you can do on a road course?
DANICA PATRICK: I would definitely like to redeem myself last year and what happened. Outside of falling out of the race, which is never a good thing, I wasn't necessarily very fast.
I'm going to go there. I think over the last, as I've been sort of reflecting on the road courses and what I've been doing, I think I've been focusing a little too much on how other people are driving. I just need to forget about that and get the most out of me on a road course, drive my own style. That's kind of going to be my approach coming into Sonoma this time.
Q. This is your second season. It's almost over. You seem to be a little more relaxed. Do you feel you have a different vibe this season than last season?
DANICA PATRICK: That's a good point. I wasn't sure where it came from or wasn't quite sure it was there until someone had mentioned it to me.
I'll tell you, one of the best things that's happened from last year to this year is that my mom and dad have become very involved with my career and now they play a role in my business. It's taken so much of the stresses off of me, the little everyday emails to reply to, things to think about. It's been very, very helpful for me to have some more assistance in my day-to-day and business life. I think that's probably one of the best things for me that's happened from last year to this year, as well as the fact that one year to the next you know a little bit more what to expect.
Q. Did you see the video clips from the Michigan disappointment and what did you think of your effort?
DANICA PATRICK: I did see them. I've thought a little bit about it, but not that much because, I mean, it's emotion. I just finished I think was the third fastest race in history. It was like 194 average miles per hour. That's with starting under yellow and having a caution. I mean, that's fast. It's the second longest race of the year. I was definitely struggling with my car as far as speed-wise. The car felt great, great handling. I just didn't have the speed. Every little mistake that you could make or every little decision that you make, you know, it's a bigger -- you know, you have to pay the price a little bit more when you don't have the speed to catch back up.
It was just a long day. Finally made it up into the top 10, made it up to 7th, which I would be plenty pleased with that day. To run out of fuel, I didn't know exactly what it was. I kept it on the track, tried downshifting. Without any fuel, it didn't really matter. My engine had a problem there last year. I thought, Oh, my gosh, you're kidding me. I also didn't know that the pit crew didn't have any telemetry either. These are all things I knew afterwards.
I don't regret being mad because that's me. I'm emotional. I want to do well. I stand by my action. I think in all sports you see people gloating, you see people very excited after making a touchdown, or you see people really mad after falling out of a race or losing a game. It's just what happens. It's sports. It's excitement. It's emotion. That's exactly what I had.
Q. Yes, you did.
DANICA PATRICK: Yes, I did.
Q. The poor barrel.
DANICA PATRICK: I thought it was full. I will say as I walked up, everything in my brain was saying, don't kick it, but kick it because you'll feel better. I thought the barrel would have been full, but it wasn't, it was empty (laughter).
Q. What have you learned about the track in Kentucky last year that can take you from not just qualifying on the pole but maybe winning the race?
DANICA PATRICK: I think there's been a lot of things over the last year or so that I've learned from. Every race is its own race. While I don't think we quite have the speed and we're not quite as fast as we were last year, everybody has been playing a little bit of catch-up with Penske and Ganassi. I think if we can be close to them, in the hunt, it's all going to come down to that last pit stop or that last yellow flag.
You know, you just have to be in a position. Being in that position is what you're striving for. Everything up until that point, I mean, it's sort of out of your control. A little bit is from a standpoint that you can only be as fast as you are. If you're fast and you're in a position at the end, that's when you make things happen. If you're not fast, you're not fast. Our goal is going to be to get the most out of the car so we can put ourself in that position at the end of the race.
Q. Anything in particular about this track you really liked last year?
DANICA PATRICK: I thought it was good side-by-side racing. I definitely was fast last year. I think that was the race that I had a gearbox problem that was my fault. I was five laps down or something. I remember being in the back and not being able to pass. I'm like, What is the point of me being out here if I can't pass anyone? Once I could, I made it from last all the way up to seeing the lead pack. I was lap traffic.
I think it's just a matter, like I was saying, making sure you put yourself in a position to be there at the end, just staying clean, as I proved last year, not making a mistake that puts you out of contention.
Q. After this week, you head out to Sonoma. It's the second to the last race of the year, one of the tougher road races you have to do. What is it like having to finish the year with a road race like Sonoma?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, it won't be our last race. We're racing in Chicago after that. It will be the last road course of the year, but not the last race.
I touched on that earlier. My approach has changed a little bit from the previous couple. I'm just going to focus on how I drive the race car and get the most out of myself.
You know, with road courses, I've definitely struggled. I'm going to be working so hard. They are definitely emotional weekends for me since I haven't been as fast. I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure that I have good emotions.
Q. It's your only trip out to the West Coast all year. Do you look forward to coming out to the West Coast as opposed to staying out on the East and Midwest where you usually are?
DANICA PATRICK: You know, yeah. It's a beautiful part of the country. I don't have much time to tour around the wine country, which I enjoy. I would enjoy that, I'm sure. It's definitely business. As race car drivers, we do travel the world and mostly the country. We don't tend to see the beauty of all the places that we go. But it seems like at Sonoma, we really get to be in the thick of it. It's a wonderful track with good sights to see.
Q. The way you kicked that barrel and caught it, is it true to say even when you're upset, you're still a neat freak?
DANICA PATRICK: I'm one of those all-or-nothing girls. The "all" was probably kicking into play there. My closet is either completely perfect or completely a mess, one or the other.
Q. The announced move to Andretti Green, you're pretty much the first female driver to get what you'd call a big-time contract, get sought after and get a big-time contract, at least in series where you have to turn and stuff. I'm wondering, is that a little bit of a checkoff achievement in your mind of your steady climb as a race car driver?
DANICA PATRICK: You know what, come to think of that, the way you put that, I wouldn't necessarily call that a checkoff achievement. I think my deal with Rahal Letterman has been very good.
I think more than anything, and this is what my goal was, I just feel like it leads up to a checkoff. I'm going to have a really, really good opportunity. Not that I don't have an opportunity to win, but I think I have a better opportunity to win at Andretti Green. I think it's closer to checking off certain achievements.
Q. After a couple years, somebody else wanted you even more. You understand what I'm saying? A lot of times, with Sarah, for example, she's had to struggle with teams that were struggling. You seem to be the first female to break that barrier of getting an invitation. What was it about Kentucky last year, before you had your problems, what is it that you felt there? Obviously, you were quick. What do you take with that? What kind of is your feeling going into that situation?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, you know, I think a lot of that had to do with Rahal Letterman, we've been pretty good with our oval setups. You know, the Panoz is definitely fast in qualifying. I've been saying that for a long time. That's its strength. It's been a little bit more difficult now with the Dallara to qualify well.
I think, you know, people have proved time and time again that it's not the qualifying that's important. I've definitely proved that. It's the finish that you're striving for, the race, how the car feels.
You know, I think that we just had a good car setup. Everybody in a Honda engine was definitely strong last year. With that combination, we had a good race. We didn't have a good race because we were five laps down, but we had a fast car.
Q. Is there anything from watching Sarah or knowing Sarah in the past, obviously she was a forerunner before you, is there anything you learned or kind of took notes on about how you might be treated once you get to the IRL? Anything you learned from her career up until you moved in there?
DANICA PATRICK: To be honest, I wasn't really around as much at that point. Some of it I was in Atlantics. The rest of it, I was kind in Europe and stuff. When I get involved with something, I pretty much delve myself into it. When I was in England, I didn't know about IndyCars. Now that I'm in IndyCars, I don't know about Formula One. It was very difficult.
I don't really watch a lot of other racing. I don't watch a lot of it on TV. I would probably rather watch Best Week Ever or something. I didn't really know.
I think history would show that you have to prove yourself. I knew that.
Q. Along the lines of Sarah Fisher, do you have any impressions whatsoever of her as a racer? Do you know anything about her at all on the track?
DANICA PATRICK: I'm not going to lie. Not a lot. I remember her from go-karting. I remember her from IndyCars somewhat. I think that times changed, drivers changed, things evolve. It's probably difficult, even if I did know, to compare everything because it's always changing and evolving.
You know, I know that she did well at times, and that's great.
Q. This is her first IndyCar race since Indianapolis in '04. Do you think getting back in an IndyCar after two years off is a particularly difficult thing? On the track, are you aware of someone like that who is maybe new in the cockpit, you might avoid her a little bit? Do you think about that at all?
DANICA PATRICK: You know, I was agreeing with you up until the "avoid" part. I think you definitely are going to have a much more difficult time since you -- there's nothing like staying in the saddle. Outside of that, I think you are aware who is new in the series or who hasn't driven in a while because they're not quite as sharp maybe as you are. I don't think that's always true. It just is a maybe. You just keep that in mind. Your spotter is a big source of information. They let you know what cars are around.
It won't be any different than any other guy who jumps in the car mid-season or the beginning of the year.
THE MODERATOR: Danica, thanks again for taking the time to join us today. We appreciate that.
DANICA PATRICK: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined now by Sarah Fisher. Sarah, of course, returning to the IndyCar Series this weekend, driving the No. 5 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry. She's made 48 career IndyCar Series starts from 1999 through 2004. In 2002, she became the first woman in North American motorsports history to win the pole position for a major league open-wheel race, that was at Kentucky, with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
Sarah also had a third place finish at Kentucky in 2000.
Sarah, just tell us, how does it feel to return to the IndyCar Series, especially at a track like Kentucky where you've had success and with a team like Dreyer & Reinbold with whom you've enjoyed success?
SARAH FISHER: I'm so very excited. I went away and I did some stock car stuff with Richard Childress Racing. That was fun, too. I love IndyCars. I'm always around IndyCar racing. I'm engaged to Andy O'Gara, who is a part of Dreyer & Reinbold. His dad is the team manager there. I'm always there. I'm always seeing what's going on. I love the sport. To be able to have the opportunity to jump back in one, especially at Kentucky where all my friends, family, a lot of my core heart fans go, that's awesome. I'm so looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: How about your fans? For several years in a row, there you were voted the most popular driver in the IndyCar Series. What has the reaction been like since the announcement?
SARAH FISHER: It has been more than wonderful. I cannot believe the support from emails to people calling the shop. It's endless. The interviews I've done around fans and their support. It's been wonderful.
In fact, kind of as a payback to them, I just cleared it with Dennis this afternoon that my helmet hasn't been able to be painted in time because this is such a last-minute deal. I'm taking it to the autograph session. I'm going to have the first however many fans sign it until it fills up. That's the helmet I'm going to race.
THE MODERATOR: Certainly a very unique opportunity for fans. You're testing at Kentucky tomorrow, which I believe will be your first time in the car since the 2004 Indianapolis 500. What kind of expectations do you have for the weekend?
SARAH FISHER: Well, I said it the other night, it's kind of like bowling. You go out and you've been a great bowler, you've bowled the best you can. You stop bowling for a few years, it's kind of hard to come back and even bowl your average.
What we expect is to get back in the car, get comfortable, get laps, to do restarts again, to hustle it getting in and out of the pits, tuning the car, providing feedback, working with engineers in this series.
It's just to get back to square one.
THE MODERATOR: Obviously a lot of eyes watching because you and Danica, one of the first times, obviously you ran the 500 in the past with Lyn St. James, but one of the first times where there's two women racing against each other in the same race. Any type of pressure added to you to perform better than her or anything like that?
SARAH FISHER: No, not at all. I don't see Danica, seeing the 16 car, it doesn't make me want to go any harder or faster. I mean, everybody is the same in my mind. I think it's great what she's done for the league and for the sport. She's drawn a lot of attention to it. It's made the league more popular. People are tuning in. That's awesome. As an open-wheel fan, I couldn't want any more for the series. So that's great. To me on track, she'll be just another car.
THE MODERATOR: Let's open it up for questions for Sarah.
Q. You have a lot of fans in Sacramento. What was your experience like in stock car racing? Do you think you'll ever go back to that? Was the IndyCar Series just always calling you back that way?
SARAH FISHER: Oh, no, I want to run everything. I love stock cars. I had a great time with Bill McInelly and his group. Mario is still out there on the West Coast. It was awesome. I had so much fun driving those cars. It was like driving a Sprint car again because you really feel the cars through your body instead of your hands which that was a technique that I had to learn especially to IndyCar Series because I had never driven a rear engine car before. To get back to those techniques that I learned growing up as a kid, as a 15, 14-year-old, that was a lot of fun.
After Brickyard this past weekend, I went to that, of course. I had still some conversation with the Childress Racing folks, some other folks. I'm looking for everything. I love racing. I'll drive a Sprint car, just love racing in general.
Q. What kept you out of a car this year? Was it sponsorship? What happened?
SARAH FISHER: Sponsorship and timing. The one didn't complement the other. We had some people getting really emotional about what we were doing. It didn't work out for whatever reason. Those reasons, I can't control. I wish I could. I wish that we could just find the answer, get it done 'cause, you know, the on-track product is great. We just have to make all the ends meet.
Q. Congratulations on your engagement. When did that happen and do you have a date set for the wedding?
SARA FISHER: It happened in October, on my birthday, October 4th, when I turned 25 last year. The wedding date is supposedly going to be November 3rd of 2007.
Q. How long is your commitment for in the IRL? Do you have any kind of a time frame or is it just kind of open-ended?
SARAH FISHER: It's kind of open-ended. Chicago of course is in question after Kentucky. Kind of how this weekend goes. It really has to make financial sense to Dennis. Dennis really has been a great big supporter of mine throughout the years. We remain friends. That was a big part of why I'm back.
But, you know, Chicago has to make financial sense, too. Ryan Briscoe, of course, is going to drive the car for us at Sonoma. Road courses are his specialty. Look forward to a great finish there.
Q. What did you drive in the NASCAR series this past season in the races you were involved in? What series were you in?
SARAH FISHER: It was the Grand National West Series.
Q. How many races did you run?
SARAH FISHER: 13.
Q. You said Ryan is going to be at Infineon in a couple weeks, although he does have a checkered history there. Maybe Chicago for you the end of the year. Are you working on something for next year?
SARAH FISHER: You know, not really, not locally right now. Of course I'm open to any conversations about it. I think the media has made more of a commitment for me next year than what's out there. I really haven't had any conversations that are permanent, what do we do next step kind of conversations.
I definitely would love to have that opportunity.
Q. No firm prospects for '07 at this time?
SARAH FISHER: No, sir.
Q. When Danica was doing some things last year, winning some poles, let's take away the fourth place at Indy, that was pretty special, she runs fourth at Japan, getting the media attention, did a little bit of that sting with you because you had run second to Hornish at Homestead, won a pole, Richmond, done some things, done all that before? I don't know it was brought up a whole lot. Did that sting a little bit for you?
SARAH FISHER: Well, at the time I had my own media coverage. Rightfully so, when she's running up front like that, she should have her own media coverage. I only think that's fair. When I was there, I had my own chance, and that was great. I fully enjoyed that.
Q. Was that a no then?
SARAH FISHER: No, there's no sting. I think she's done a tremendous job, and the pressures on her are pretty steep. I'm just looking forward to this one race weekend myself.
Q. Of all the people that understand the phrase "pressure on her pretty steep," I think you probably get that more than others. Probably did have some empathy in that regard.
SARAH FISHER: Yeah. I sort of know what she's going through. I think there's more pressure on her really than there was on me. I don't know. I know she seems to be handling that well. I don't know Danica on a personal level. From what she says through the media, I think she's handling that well.
Q. There was a recent conference with several female drivers. What do you think of the development of such conferences and what's coming out of those?
SARAH FISHER: Are you talking about Lyn St. James' luncheon?
SARAH FISHER: That's not necessarily a conference. It's more of a luncheon where the drivers that are young and racing Midgets and Sprint cars and so forth can come forward and say, look, I exist.
I think when you get to having more than one of those instances, it (indiscernible) maybe. But it's great to know that those girls do exist. I know when I was racing IndyCars, I had no idea that there were that many girls in racing. That's awesome. There's a lot of winners. There's a lot of very dedicated people out there that ultimately we'll all find out about.
Q. Did you learn anything or get anything from those types of luncheons?
SARAH FISHER: You know, I really didn't do any of those growing up. Running the All-Stars, the World of Outlaws, things like that, we were racing on average 60 nights a year. That was a ton. Then to go to school and have my dad require me to get As and Bs to race, it was impossible for me to do anything more than those two things.
Growing up, I really didn't do those types of things.
Q. The fact that Danica came up with Rahal Letterman, really strong team, they helped her. Now all of a sudden she became a desired driver, pardon the expression. Andretti Green Racing has given her probably as good a contract as any female driver has ever gotten. Is that a little bit of, I don't know, an achievement for all of you female drivers to show that, yeah, you can do the job and be wanted? Even though you kind of did the job, you kind of ending up with some teams marginal on occasion. Do you agree with that, that that is a (indiscernible) for all you guys?
SARAH FISHER: You know, racing, I don't know, I think that is awesome for her. I think it's a check mark. I think I heard her reply to that. She wants to win races. We all want to win races. To be able to sign something like that, man, she should be pretty proud of that.
I'm not a part of her, I'm my own individual. She's her own individual. That's truly amazing what she's done. Maybe other people will open their eyes a little bit, but really it's about the individual. Because Sam Hornish, Jr. might sign a great big contract doesn't mean that Vitor Meira gets to sign one.
Q. As you look back on your Indy career, did you ever feel like you were never with that stud team, the team -- do you really think that made kind of a difference as you look back on it a little bit of the consistency? Obviously you had some great moments.
SARAH FISHER: Yeah, we had great moments. I wasn't with a main factory team that had all the money and the people and the resources and testing and the R&D and the preparation. But we worked our butts off, man. We tried as hard as we possibly could and we ran up front when we could and we got the job done.
Maybe if we had all those other things, we could have done that on a more consistent basis, but we got to do it more than a couple times, and that was great.
You can't look back and say, Boy, I wish I could have done that, I wish I could have done that. You can only look forward and say, I wish I could have done this because of that.
Q. Nothing is promised for Chicagoland yet, a lot of people have good vibes, but how can you not feel a little bit of pressure going into this situation this weekend from the standpoint you haven't been in one of these cars for a year and a half, you're going to get a test? You know people one way or the other are going to be watching. It's obviously you and the novelty of you and Danica in the same race, but also you back. Where do you put that pressure quotient right now?
SARAH FISHER: Well, I'm nervous. I'll be completely frank about that. To not be in the cars and to not have gotten in one yet, to know I'll be in one tomorrow, I'm nervous about that because I really want to do good.
Obviously I think in my mind the main story is the two Penske cars that are 1-2 and the Ganassi cars 3-4 chasing after each other. Certainly what I'm doing is just getting experience, and what they're doing is running for a championship.
That's completely different. I really respect that. I just want to go get laps, get back on square one again and tell everybody, Hey, I still love IndyCar racing. I always have, always will.
Q. There's been a lot of activity down at Kentucky in the last many days. I take it you haven't been there. Do you think you can put a setup together that will really work for you on Sunday if you're not going to be down there until tomorrow?
SARAH FISHER: Haven't been in a car for years, that would make all your headlines pretty darn easy. Third of the race to the end of the race, from full tanks to empty tanks, that I can challenge, a car that has a great platform under me, that doesn't have one end moving more than the other, that is very stable, that's what I need to get going again.
I honestly can't tell you whether or not that's going to happen. That's ultimately what everyone wants to achieve. We work very hard to achieve that. That's in my best prayers that we make it happen.
Q. In the last call, are you worried that your fans are going to be expecting too much of you in this race Sunday?
SARAH FISHER: You know, I don't think that they will. I did the (indiscernible) deal last night, Don's show. A fan handed me a slip of paper that said, Just have fun. I think they're glad to see me back, glad to see in my heart that I still love IndyCar racing, that I'm still in racing.
I went out to the West Coast and everybody thought I disappeared because I was racing in California. To see me back on the East Coast again, where I made the root of my fan base, I think they're just happy to see me back and will support whatever I do.
I have a ton of family members coming in for this weekend. I know they love me no matter what I do.
Q. I talked to Robbie Buhl, he said that the team had purposely tried to shelter you a little bit over this last week or so since the announcement was made. They were hoping to go into this event under the radar. Are you surprised with all the attention your return is receiving?
SARAH FISHER: No. I knew that that would sort of happen, that there would be a lot of questions about a return, as would be if some of the other noted drivers returned. If Kenny Brack came back and had a lot of questions, it's sort of the same thing.
But, you know, I am not at all surprised of trying to come in under the radar. What we're trying to do here is not win a championship. That's over a whole season. It's a single race that we just want to get back in, get some laps, get back to where we left off.
Q. Sunday afternoon, what will you have been happy to have done? Is a top 10 almost as good as a win?
SARAH FISHER: At this point, yeah. Dreyer & Reinbold is extremely happy to have a top 10 right now. They want to be consistently up there and competitive. If I can do that, I think I'll be a hero to them.
You know, you have to be happy with that.
Q. You drove mainly before there was an influx of teams from the Champ Car series like Penske, Ganassi, Rahal Letterman, Andretti Green. Was it harder for you to find seats from 2004 on and that's why you took the NASCAR path?
SARAH FISHER: No. The reason I took the NASCAR path was 'cause I got a call from Richard Childress. I met Richard through a Chevy function. He had told me, Hey, if you ever want to drive a stock car, try that, give me a shout. Before I even ran the 2004 Indy 500, I had been working on things with Richard to get down there, to try that.
It's just something new. I'm still really young. I wanted to see if that would be a possible route for me. Even when I enjoyed racing those cars, because I never raced anything with fenders on it, Richard was the reason why I went south.
THE MODERATOR: Sarah, thanks again for taking the time to join us. Good luck tomorrow in the test and the rest of the weekend in the race.
SARAH FISHER: Thank you very much.
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