Fishers Pole Run Is History
August 10, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Fisher needed just one lap on the oval to hit 221.390 mph and become the first woman to ever win a pole for an open wheel oval race in North America. Her previous best start was second at Richmond last year.
"I couldn't really care about history," Fisher said. "It's been a really long year for us. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing hasn't had a pole ever and to give them a pole is great.
"It's just Saturday; it's not Sunday yet, and I don't want to get to overexcited because we have a real big job to do tomorrow. I think I've got my confidence back, and that's a big part of it because when you lose your confidence you lose belief in yourself, you lose belief in what the car has the ability to do, and we've got it back."
Billy Boat qualified second, running a hot lap of 221.364 mph, followed by Felipe Giaffone, Helio Castroneves, and Sam Hornish Jr.
"I just got beat by the girl the least," Boat said. "The guys did a great job. We're going to be starting up front, and the race is what we're concerned about.
"Sarah did a great job. She's been quick all weekend. We knew that if anybody was going to beat us, she was going to be the one."
Buddy Rice qualified sixth in the No. 53 Red Bull Cheever Indy Racing machine, followed by his team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. Richie Hearn, Buddy Lazier, and Gil de Ferran rounded out the Top 10.
Al Unser Jr. qualified 14th in his first race since he entered a substance-abuse program and was forced to miss two races.
Fisher’s pole helps silence some critics of the IRL’s most popular driver, who say she is under-performing in quality rides. In six races this season she has two Top 10 finishes, including a fourth place run at Nazareth in April.
She began the season without a ride, which some called a travesty as the Columbus, Ohio has been consistently cited as the IRL’s most popular driver since 2000 rookie season. She then drove the No. 23 Dreyer-Reinbold G Force Infiniti in place of injured Robbie Buhl at Nazareth, which led to a full time ride from then on.
In 27 career IRL races Fisher has three Top 5 finishes, including her fourth place run at Nazareth in April, a second-place finish at Miami last year, and a third-place run at Kentucky in 2000.
The Belterra Casino Indy 300 begins Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET. There are isolated thunderstorms in the forecast.