Sarah Fisher has announced that she will be on the grid for at least nine race in next year's IndyCar Series and that, more importantly, her eponymous team would also field a second car in a minimum of four events.
Dollar General has confirmed that it will return as Fisher's primary sponsor on the #67 car for nine events in 2010, including the Indianapolis 500 and the street and road course events at St Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park. The programme is a 50 per cent expansion of the former IRL Most Popular Driver's 2009 campaign, which has seen her out on track at six events.
"Dollar General has done things for us on track and off track that every team and driver should be thankful for," Fisher revealed, "It is my brand - Dollar General is the 'girl next door', and to continue that for a third year means we're doing a pretty good job, although we're going to have work even harder to do a good job. Next year is going to be pretty tough. As everyone knows, we're running two road courses and my focus has [always] been on the ovals, but we have a programme to get me up to speed."
Part of that programme is the introduction of a second SFR entry, which Briton Jay Howard will campaign in four races with primary sponsorship from Tire Kingdom. Former Indy Pro Series champion Howard will race the #66 entry in the Indianapolis 500, the ovals at Texas and Chicagoland and the road course at Mid-Ohio, marking his return to the series after a part-season in 2008 with Roth Racing that yielded five starts before parting with the squad.
"Jay brings a significant knowledge of road course racing, which is great," Fisher remarked, "As an Indy Lights champion, we're very happy to support those who look forward to racing in the IndyCar Series. We're very lucky, and very excited [by the expansion of our programme]. It's an expansion on the hospitality side, which we're excited about, having sponsors who want to be an integral part of that."
"Happy is not the word I would use," Howard responded, "There probably aren't any words to describe how happy I am to be a part of Sarah's team. I told Sarah I'd go streaking as soon as the deal was done....
"The guys at Sarah Fisher Racing do a great job. This is, by far, the best opportunity for me in my career. I just didn't give up. I kept trying. I'm not the kind of person that's going to lay down and go away. I believed that hard work would pay off. That's how Sarah started her team, hard work and not giving up, so it's a perfect match."
Fisher admitted that, while seeing first hand the effort that is required to run her own team, she would rather do nothing else.
"I think I'm a very rare and unique individual," she claimed, "Starting my own team, starting my own business, being female.... Running the team with my husband Andy has been a blessing. I love going to work every day.
"I'm there, seriously, every day. I'm doing a lot of things on the computer and the accounting, but I also see the guys in the shop. I get to see the bits and pieces that I'm paying for being put together. For me, that's very enjoyable because I know that the effort I'm doing is really paying off. We want to grow both programmes, and we would love to have a full-season programme for both of us. We're going to expand if the opportunity exists."