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Indy Racing League

Saturday, May 11
Updated: May 13, 8:16 PM ET
Track History Drivers Indianapolis 500
Fisher enjoys perfect day at Indy
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Sarah Fisher spent her post-qualifying news conference Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway smiling, laughing, joking and savoring every moment.

Fisher qualified ninth for the Indianapolis 500 with a four-lap average of 229.439 mph -- easily the fastest by a woman in Indy history.

"Today, we accomplished exactly what we were aiming for," she said, grinning. "There was still a little left that we could have taken out with the trim but that wasn't the point. We just wanted a steady consistent car, and it was perfect."

Fisher did much better than expected after posting a 226.970 on Friday, her fastest lap since she got the ride with the Dreyer & Reinbold team on Wednesday.

She will start on the outside of the third row after outqualifying former Indy champs Helio Castroneves, Kenny Brack, Buddy Lazier and Al Unser Jr. A fifth, Arie Luyendyk, didn't even qualify Saturday.

The 21-year-old Fisher will start in the same three-car row as IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr., a two-time winner this season, and 2001 Indy polesitter Scott Sharp .

And she is only the second woman, following Lyn St. James in 1994, to earn a start in the front three rows at Indianapolis. The only other woman to race at Indy is Janet Guthrie, who broke the gender barrier 25 years ago this month.

In the 12 previous starts by women -- St. James had seven, Guthrie three and Fisher two -- the fastest qualifying speed was 225.346 by St. James in for four laps in 1995, and that was before the IRL eliminated turbocharged engines.

Fisher, who declines to speak in terms of women's records, shattered St. James' mark.

Sarah Fisher
Sarah Fisher, right, hugs Kim Sharp, wife of driver Scott Sharp, after making the Indy 500 field.

"I've been faster than these guys sometimes," she said. "I almost had the pole in Richmond last year."

Fisher started second in that race and had qualified in the top seven four times in 23 previous IRL starts.

As recently as three weeks ago, though, it appeared Fisher might not even get an opportunity to try for the May 26 race.

Lacking a sponsor, she was without a ride. Then, after asking for her release from Walker Racing, which had skipped the first three races, her fortunes changed.

Dreyer & Reinbold hired Fisher last month as a replacement for the injured Robbie Buhl at Nazareth, Pa. Fisher finished fourth -- her third best in three IRL seasons.

The team was impressed enough to want to keep Fisher as Buhl's teammate. Once sponsorship was arranged, the deal was made and, on Saturday, the duo delivered a 1-2 punch with Buhl qualifying second and Fisher ninth.

"We missed it just a little and that's frustrating," Buhl said. "But last night, I knew we had the speed."

There was no frustration for Fisher, whose fastest lap of 229.675 also broke St. James' previous best of 225.722 in 1995.

"Robbie is the most awesome teammate ever," she said, chuckling. "We wanted to qualify in the top 15 because that way we wouldn't have to mess around with Bump Day. I think we did that."

She was referring to the last of three days of qualifying, next Sunday, when faster cars can bump already-qualified cars from the 33-car field.

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Sarah Fisher stops by the RPM 2Night set to discuss her third-row qualifying position.
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