Coming into a seemingly hot IHRA streak late, Kathy Fisher has put her Dragon Racing Fuels/K&N/Amalie Oil/Ohio Crankshaft Quick Rod dragster into the final during her last three IHRA events. After her runner-up during her last IHRA event in Canada, more recently Fisher found herself with a near double at the IHRA Summit Pro-Am event at Pittsburgh Raceway Park after grabbing the Ironman for day one and narrowly missing a second championship during day two.
Kathy Fisher's Dragon Racing Fuels/K&N/Amalie Oil/Ohio Crankshaft Quick Rod dragster
Kathy Fisher grabs Ironman at IHRA Summit Pro-Am at Pittsburgh Raceway Park
"We knew it was going to be an interesting weekend, since we didn't have any crew for this race to help with both cars, but I certainly wasn't expecting to have such an exciting one," she said.
Day number one of the double race weekend would be plagued with rain and delayed any on track action until nearly early evening. "When I woke up on Saturday morning and took a look at the window, well I just decided to stay in bed," she noted. "I guess my being lazy and sleeping in until 11:30, which isn't like me to do so at the track, ended up paying some good dividends when the race ran so late into the night."
After two time runs for Fisher and her fellow competitors, round one of the first race wouldn't get under way until late evening where the random pairings would match up Fisher and Division 1 racer, George Williams.
"It was already dark by the time we got to round one," she explained. "I love eighth mile racing and night racing at Pittsburgh. That track is lit up great. I adjusted the delay for night time and I guess it worked. George had a little better light, but I was able to come out on the good side of our double breakout. What I didn't know at that moment was that I had the best reaction time of the first round winners and when I went up for round two, I was pulled for the bye."
As luck would have it, there were an even number of cars for round two and Fisher would line up against Donny Urban. Having lane choice, Fisher sent Urban to the right lane and used a .008 reaction time on top of a dead-on 5.701 ET to move on to round three.
Kathy Fisher at the IHRA Summit Pro-Am event at Pittsburgh Raceway Park
"I was pretty stoked when I was able to look at DRC [Drag Race Central] and see that not only did I have the best reaction time of the round again, but this time I would actually get the earned bye run since we were down to five cars," she pointed out. "I had a plan for the bye and part of that was to just run her through the 330 to get early track numbers."
By the time the semi-finals rolled around, it was technically already early Sunday morning. With three cars left, Fisher was paired with local racer Mia Tedesco. "Thanks to sleeping in, I was really feeling great," said Fisher of her semi-final round. "I didn't need a lot of caffeine or anything to make me jittery and with the car performing like it was, what a great confidence booster."
Tedesco had lane choice and put Fisher back in the left lane, which came as a surprise to the Ohio racer. "I had just run my bye in the right lane, otherwise I had been in the left all night," she pointed out. "So that was fine with me and I dialed the stop and the delay accordingly."
Fisher's .003 reaction time gave her nearly a three hundredth of a second advantage over Tedesco from the hit and allowed her to easily push out the young racer for a 5.711 to 5.674 victory and make her way to her first Quick Rod final of the weekend.
"For the first time all day, I was starting to get antsy and it was due to what I was seeing develop on the radar," she confessed. "I knew we had rain coming and I'm not talking a light shower, I knew we were going to get nailed. I just didn't want any of us to be caught on the track when it let loose, nor did I want to have to wait until the next day to run the final. Everything was working so well and I didn't want to stop our momentum. If we had a chance to sew it up, it was right then."
Luckily, the final round of Quick Rod went off without a hitch and thanks again to Fisher's better previous round reaction time, she had lane choice over John Dustin. She used the combination of a .013 reaction time along with her 5.707 to Dustin's .035 and 5.725 for the Quick Rod win.
"You know what is extra cool about running eighth mile on a quarter mile track and winning," she asked. "Seeing the big "W" light up in your lane. It was such a fantastic night for us. Kevin did an outstanding job keeping my car exactly the same from one round to the next. I did not have to worry or even think about any of that, I could just do my job of studying the numbers and making the call on what to dial and how to drive each round."
The after 2AM winner's circle celebration would be almost nonexistent as approximately twenty minutes after her final the skies let loose with a torrential downpour. "I just had a chance to take care of my contingency, open a beverage, talk a little with John [Dustin] about the round and bam," she exclaimed. "We had my car cover with us, but it was beyond even trying that. We were about as far away from our pit as you could be and to keep it brief, it was a mini-nightmare driving back. I couldn't see a thing and water was already starting to pond on the return road. It was mayhem for a moment."
Much to Fisher's delight, her in-car camera was still on and caught the whole debacle. "It was pretty funny to watch everyone scatter and the chain of events," she laughed. "But it sure wasn't at the moment. I even lost my K&N scoop plug in the chaos to get back and Kevin decided to go look for it on the golf cart in the deluge. We were both utterly soaked to the bone by the time we were done."
"I have to thank Glenn Butcher, who was pitted next to us, for standing in the rain and helping me cover my car," Fisher continued. "I was so wound up after everything, I couldn't go to sleep or for that matter, let Kevin go to sleep until almost four in the morning. He finally had to tell me to be quiet and go to sleep. It was too funny, but I knew he was right and that the alarm was set for seven-thirty, it was going to be tough to get up."
Again, Mother Nature kept the on-track activities from getting underway as scheduled for race two on Sunday. IHRA and Pittsburgh Raceway Park officials had a big task on their hands with not only what fell from the sky, but what was in the air itself.
"Oh, was it ever miserably muggy all weekend," she said. "The water grains never dropped below 116 on our weather station and were as high as almost 130."
The downtime allowed team's such as Fisher, who didn't get their winner's circle pictures or hardware the night before to do so during the track drying. "I was also able to find my scoop plug on the other side of the track," she laughed. "It is a custom scoop plug, so I was really happy to find it."
Sunday's race was not only an IHRA Division claim but also a Tournament of Champions qualifier. Fisher picked right back up where she left off just twelve hours earlier with round wins over Bobbie Jo Bayus in round one and Kevin Trusty in round two.
"I certainly wasn't having the kind of reaction times that I had the night before," said Fisher of her early rounds on Sunday. "You want the best light possible of course, but especially when it could mean a shot at a bye. Kevin told me not to worry about it and that I didn't want to get a bye and waste it in the earlier rounds. Well, he was right it happened at the best time possible."
For the quarter-finals, it would be a rematch of the final from the night before with Fisher and John Dustin. "That was an awesome round," she said. "You want to talk about fun and not knowing for absolute sure you won until you look up at the board. I felt I had a good light, but I knew he was right there with me off the line."
Fisher took a .005 margin at the stripe, which was her advantage over Dustin on the tree, both driver's posting identical 5.710 ET's. "I knew I won, I knew I was in the left lane, but that's not what the timeslip said," she commented. "They had entered the wrong car numbers in the wrong lane. So while it wasn't a huge deal, I still had to go to the tower and get it all straightened out. The cool part of all that seeing that with my .011 light, I would be getting the bye into the final."
With the bye, the Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School representative was now on her way to her second final of the weekend and her first chance of her career to double up.
"I knew I wasn't going to get lane choice in the final after the light I had during my bye run," she admitted. "I was ready for whatever lane I got. There was a difference in how to dial both the delay and the throttle stop. When Jeremy [Mason] put me in the right lane, I just made my adjustments accordingly."
Fisher and Mason left the line nearly glued with only six ten-thousandths of a second between them, but in a mere moment, Fisher made her first wrong decision of the weekend and sent Mason on for the win.
"I just flat played too much at the stripe," she conceded. "I could have easily kept my foot in it and if nothing else, at least made it tighter. But with the way my car was dialed, it really could have gone either way and that was the choice that I made."
The back-to-back finals moved Fisher into third in the IHRA Division 3 Quick Rod points standings with two claims left for the season.
"After a weekend like that, it's going to take a lot to top it," said Fisher, one of only two racers to make two finals over the weekend. "My husband Kevin was so on top of everything, so when I say I have nothing but the best to work with, it starts right with having him by my side. After thirteen passes down the track in two days, just look at my car's consistency over all the runs. Although we had the fuel set just right, that's a lot of back-to-back runs. Talk about putting your oil and filter to the test. But again, I didn't have a thing to worry about because we only use the toughest products out there and with one of them being our K&N Wrench-Off Oil Filters, all we had to do was keep the car cool and dial it."
"K&N has an absolutely outstanding, unparalleled line of products," she continued. "I can safely say that if I ever personally put them to the test, it was this weekend. From the numerous passes on the car with the oil filter to the K&N air filter, inside my K&N 2nd generation composite scoop, protecting my engine during the tropic-like downpour that I had to drive in for almost a mile with wet dirt flying up everywhere [pauses] wow, am I relived that I had the protection like I get from K&N."
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