MILWAUKEE (AP) – It wasn’t too long ago that Sarah Fisher was in the position now occupied by Danica Patrick: a female racing sensation with unprecedented success on the track and runaway popularity off it.

But while Patrick just signed a new contract with a championship-caliber IndyCar Series team for next season, Fisher simply is looking for a place to race.

Fisher recognizes the disparity, but figures there’s no sense dwelling on what now appears to be her ill-fated attempt to switch to NASCAR two years ago – or the wave of Danicamania that swelled after Fisher left the series.

“We’re separate entities,” Fisher said. “She does her thing, I do mine. I just want to race race cars.”

That isn’t as easy as it sounds – even for someone whose racing resume is, at this point, more complete than Patrick’s.

Fisher attended Sunday’s IndyCar Series race at the Milwaukee Mile as a guest of the Dreyer & Reinbold team, which is trying to put together a sponsorship deal to put her in a car for three of the last four races of the season.

It hasn’t found the money.

“I’m trying to put something together,” Fisher said. “They have interest, I have interest. It just has to make sense financially.”

Although she hasn’t raced an Indy car since 2004, Fisher is confident putting her back in a car would be as simple as “plug and play” at a high-speed track such as Michigan, Kentucky or Chicagoland.

“I haven’t gone 220 (mph) in a while, but the league realizes that and realizes that I need a little bit of time to get back up to speed,” Fisher said. “But that’s not going to be a problem.”

Team co-owner Dennis Reinbold said now that Fisher has tried stock-car racing, she seems to realize that she belongs in the IndyCar Series.

“I think she very much wants to be back,” Reinbold said. “She has more of a hunger about her than she may have had for a little while.”

Fisher puts it more simply.

“Man, I’ll get in anything,” she said.

The 25-year-old Fisher was voted the Indy Racing League’s most popular driver three straight years. She finished a career-best second at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2001; Patrick’s career-best finish so far is fourth.

But she never landed a ride with an elite-level team – like Patrick has had the past two years with Rahal Letterman and will have with Andretti Green Racing beginning next season – and then had a hard crash at Nazareth Speedway in 2003.

“We got right back on the horse again after that,” Fisher said. “It’s nothing crazy. I didn’t have any bodily injuries past the normal.”

After driving in the 2004 Indianapolis 500, she decided to try stock cars.

She established an informal alliance with NASCAR team owner Richard Childress and began racing in the NASCAR Grand National West Series.

“We did good, it’s just, that’s in California, and all the decision makers are in Charlotte and in Daytona,” Fisher said. “So it’s really hard to express to them, when you come from the tail to the front, you make this cool pass here, this cool pass there, it’s hard to describe that on the phone unless they see it and say, Oh, this is for real. Let’s sign on.”‘

Earlier this year, Fisher spent four months living on the West Coast in a motorhome with her fiancee, Andy, and a chocolate labrador retriever, Wrigley.

Her racing team ran out of money and her dog gained 40 pounds. At this point, her prospects with Childress’ team appear limited.

“We just couldn’t find sponsorship, that’s the biggest thing,” Childress said. “We never landed the sponsorship to move forward.”

Fisher has considered trying to race stock cars in the Busch East series or ARCA, but acknowledges, “Time’s running out. I just want to crawl in something and get racing again.”

Fisher doesn’t seem down about her situation, frequently bursting into laughter during a recent interview.

She said trying to teach her fiancee’s 11-year-old brother, Kyle, how to race go-karts has kept her spirits high.

“Kyle’s doing great!” Fisher said, laughing. “I’m doing mediocre.”

Fisher said trying to teach a child how to race is good training for motherhood.

“It’s training for the future,” Fisher said. “Because right now I’d be a horrible parent. Because I care so much, I want to help so much, but he’s out there and I’m not there to do it for him. And so I get irritated sometimes. But I’m getting a whole lot better at controlling myself.”

So, no regrets?

“Never. I never look at the past and evaluate those decisions,” Fisher said. “There’s a lot of people that I have surrounding me that are really good people, and who help me, and say, That’s really dumb, what you’re doing.’ Or, That’s really smart to do that and go that way.'”

And that No. 1 person is my father, and now Andy is helping me with those decisions. It’s just, it’s the way it goes.”

And she isn’t giving up.

“I’m a real racer, wishing that real things would happen,” she said.

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