Well, we have officially reached the halfway point of the 2007 season ... can you believe it's already July?
What's even harder to believe is to imagine competing on something smaller than Iowa's .875-mile track, but with the diversity of the IndyCar Series schedule, we put on a show at Richmond International Raceway's .75-mile D-shaped oval. Dario Franchitti dominated in rare fashion -- good for him. (See, good guys don't always finish last!)
I'll be one of the millions traveling on the Fourth -- perfect! Hope my flight gets in on time.
Although the total distance is the shortest we race all season, as drivers, we pulled more than 5 G's through every turn, leaving us several pounds lighter by race's end due to the extra stain on our bodies. Further, Richmond contains no straightaways, parting us drivers with a constant 16-second cycle of turning left nearly 250 times over 1.5 hours. At Richmond, horsepower becomes secondary to a well-handling race car. It's a physically demanding track but I think I was more strained from Iowa as I had to deal with a heavy push all race long.
As I'm sure you know, we weren't able to qualify for the SunTrust Indy Challenge due to persistent rain. Does anyone else feel that we just keep taking this nasty weather with us wherever we go? Ugh.
I've always loved Richmond as I've typically known the short way around the track, but not this year. We just couldn't quite get what we wanted out of the car. Plus, starting at the back in Richmond is typically never good. My teammate, Buddy Rice, started 12th and finished fifth. He made quite the trek through the field; I'm happy for him! I finished 16th.
Night racing is fun and I think the cars look great under the lights, especially our No. 5 AAMCO Transmissions machine. Remember when they referred to the cars as "specials"? For example, the No. 15 Kroger Special -- funny how things change.
Since Richmond is a night race, I got to sleep in Saturday morning, which was nice! Andy and I were staying in the bus as usual and drove out to grab some lunch (insert restaurant sponsor here). Then I had a few pre-race appearances in the fan paddock area, which I think the fans love. One was for the Indy DownForce Fan Club and the other was for the track; both were simply a Q&A with fans and your typical questions.
After our appearances were done, we had our race-day driver's meeting (I was nearly late!), then our team pre-race engineering meeting to discuss race strategy, then it was time to suit up for the race. My publicist and I then spent about an hour doing fan mail, which is very relaxing for me. Luck would have it that someone had sent me an article about me from the Richmond Times from 2002! Got all the autograph cards signed, then it was time to stuff, lick and seal. Gotta' love fan mail and the letters from the little ones -- I love them!
I've begun to think that the airport is our second home. Boy, we are racking up the frequent-flyer miles this year! It'd be nice to have an airline sponsor! We move across the country in quite a big group. Typically, it's us at DRR, Andretti Green Racing and Panther all in and out of Indy. We're like a big extended family. I often wonder what the airport personnel and bystanders think when we are trekking through the airport in our race gear. By the way, I hate middle seats, which is where I was squished on the way to Richmond!
I'm in the airport and I just saw my old engineer, Owen Snyder III! I hope he's doing well. OK, random thought!
Hmm, Watkins Glen this next weekend. It's going to be a lot of work; it's only my second road course ever. I'm going out a bit early to get some rental car time on the track on Wednesday. Oh yeah, that's the Fourth of July, so I'll be one of the millions traveling on the Fourth -- perfect! Hope my flight gets in on time.
Watkins Glen is really a nice area to visit. If you haven't been there before this is your perfect opportunity to make your first trip and you can even catch some racing! If not, I'm sure ABC would enjoy the viewership at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday. DRR placed third there last year; let's hope Buddy can get the job done and maybe I can improve from our 15th at St. Pete. There were a few crashes there last year but I'm sure AAA will be there to help with roadside assistance.
Oh, and Paris (I think she's on a first-name basis -- Hilton) got out of jail and the iPhone finally came out! See ya in Watkins Glen and happy Fourth!
IRL IndyCar Series driver Sarah Fisher drives the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing No. 5 Dallara/Honda. She is providing a diary to ESPN.com. For more on Sarah, go to www.sarahfisher.com.