Sarah Fisher focusing on ownership in 2011

IndyCar fan favorite turns over No. 67 to Ed Carpenter

After three years of being both an owner and driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series and a racing career that saw her become of American open-wheel racing’s most popular competitors, Sarah Fisher is stepping out of the cockpit.

Fisher, a native of Commercial Point, Ohio, will put all her effort and focus into leading Sarah Fisher Racing as owner of the No. 67 Dollar General machine — which will have a new driver, American leadfoot Ed Carpenter. Carpenter, who did part-time duty this past season with the Vision/Panther Racing collaboration, will drive the No. 67 in nine events next year.

It certainly feels like the end of an era for many Indy Racing League/IndyCar fans as Fisher calls time on her driving career. But to her, it was simply time to nurture her operation in a new capacity.

“This change in my career is a direction I have been thinking about very hard,” said Fisher in a press statement. “The timing is perfect for the strategy of SFR in its future endeavors. To have the support of all our partners in this direction is incredible. I am glad to have the support of our partners, including Dollar General, who have led us to where we are today. I know this team has what it takes to perform and I am hoping with the decision to put Ed in the seat, that we can do just that.

“By stepping out of the seat, I will be able to spend more time growing this team in the right directions both on and off track.”

In hindsight, Fisher’s decision to focus solely on team ownership appeared inevitable after she handed over the No. 67 to Graham Rahal for three races last year. She willingly put her team above herself with that move and seemed ready to accept that her driving career was in its final stages — one of her comments on the matter being, “My team is a whole lot more important to me than my ego.”

It was a nice show of selflessness that endeared her even more to the IndyCar fanbase. Now, she’ll look to help another fan favorite and short-track alumnus in Carpenter, who has come close to attaining his inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series victory in recent years. The alliance is a natural one.

“I have been friends with Sarah and [husband and SFR crew chief] Andy [O’Gara] for a long time, and am really looking forward to working with their team,” Carpenter said. “Sarah and I come from such similar backgrounds; I know that it will be a joy to work with her team. Sarah has had a great career and has done an amazing job growing SFR each year. I am confident that together we can continue to improve the results not only on the track, but off of the track as well.”

In 2011, Carpenter will compete in five oval events (Indianapolis, Texas, Iowa, New Hampshire, Kentucky), three road/street events (St. Petersburg, Mid-Ohio, Baltimore, and the yet-to-be-announced season finale.
Video credit: IZOD IndyCar Series.