Fisher in Childress development program

Thanks to Danicamania, the Indy Racing League is gaining valuable fans in its quest to slow down the NASCAR machine. There is little hope in stopping it. Danica Patrick has become the country's latest race darling. Being the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 certainly didn't hurt her profile, or the fact she races for an open-wheel team co-owned by TV's David Letterman.

The average fan probably doesn't know who won at Indy (it was Dan Wheldon, remember?), but they can recall Danica leading. And the general public was ecstatic that Patrick won a pole at Kansas Speedway in a car prepared by former champion Bobby Rahal.

However, long before there was Danica, there was Sarah Fisher. She also had the good looks, a great personality and the talent to control a car at 225-plus mph. She also had the genes, a child of parents that both raced and a maternal grandmother among the first to fly in Ohio. What Fisher didn't have was sponsorship or the equipment.

At a meeting at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in 2003, Richard Childress offered Fisher a ride in a stock car. Childress knows a thing or two about drivers with potential. After all, he was the man who directed Dale Earnhardt to five of his seven NASCAR championships.

Fisher took Childress up on the offer this year when her IndyCar prospects had shriveled to nothing. These days, Fisher is driving for owner Bill McAnally as part of the Childress developmental program. NASCAR needs a driver like Fisher, or Allison Duncan or Erin Crocker. Duncan, another one in the Childress development pipeline, has two late model stock car victories in Stockton. Crocker is driving for Ray Evernham and was recently second in an ARCA race in Kentucky.

All three women have displayed their talent. All three are getting the opportunity in good equipment, and the racing industry is better for it.

Fisher can only get better under McAnally's mentoring. He's a former racer who knows what it takes to win races and championships, and has passed that knowledge down. His three-car team, will be in action July 23 at Irwindale Speedway for the NASCAR Grand National West. Daily Bulletin

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