After just missing out on lifting the season points trophy, Smithton’s Josh Fisher got a nice consolation prize.
Fisher was voted the 2007 rookie of the year by the North American 360 (cubic inch) Sprint Car Poll voting panel of media members, promoters, sanctioning officials and manufacturers, according to a press release from the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum Web site.
“That’s quite the honor, first year in 360s, to be able to win an award like that,” said Fisher, who won the Winged Outlaw Warriors’ rookie of the year award. “At the first of the year, I didn’t even think that was even possible.”
Fisher, driving the No. 86x car, finished second in the WOW points standings. The rookie had 1,846 points, just 36 behind series champion and veteran Randy Martin.
In 21 WOW races, Fisher earned four wins. He finished in the top 10 15 times and earned 12 top-five finishes.
“It’s not a matter of just me, it’s a matter of everybody that’s helped me,” he said. “The race team, my dad and my mom, it takes a group effort to be able to go do something like that.”
In just one season racing on the series, Fisher has moved up to a tie for seventh in the all-time series feature wins. He is one win behind Warsaw’s Jesse Hockett and spent most of the year driving door-to-door with all-time leader Randy Martin, who has 35 wins under his belt.
“When I was a little kid, I used to watch Randy Martin race and I thought, ‘Man he’s good. He’s on top of his game.’ And I never would have believed that I would ever be able to be in the same league as Randy Martin,” Fisher said.
Fisher ran in 32 races last year and appeared in 23 “A Mains.” He had 21 top-20 finishes.
Of his four wins this season, Fisher said the one at LA Raceway was his most impressive. That win came May 5 and helped serve as a springboard for the rest of the year.
WOW writer Chad Buford wrote, “Fisher drove a perfect race” in his recap of the event, adding that the rookie led all 20 laps.
“That was a real good win for us because it was kind of me and (Martin) one-on-one,” he said. “It was a boost of confidence throughout the rest of the year. It showed us that we could run with these guys and be competitive.”
Getting his first series win in his own backyard was an extra bonus for Fisher, who finished second in the 305 class at LA Raceway in 2004.
Fisher grew up around racing, winning seven track championships in go-carts before heading to the 305 class in 2004.
Fisher was the Central Missouri Speedway track champion in 2006, which prompted his move into the 360 sprint car.
His fourth and final win of the season came at I-44 Speedway in Lebanon. According to the WOW Web site, Fisher used a restart during lap 13 of that race to take the lead from Martin and barely held off the veteran at the finish.
“I got a chance on the yellow to adjust on my car a little bit and move the wing and stuff,” Fisher said. “That helped out a bunch.”
Fisher thank his tires for his third win of the series. Racing July 14 in Moberly, Fisher was one of the few running at the front of the pack who didn’t have a flat tire.
The teen was in a battle for second most of the night, according to the WOW Web site, but watched as his competition fell flat — literally.
Gabe Maycock led most of the race, according to the Web site, but had a flat tire on lap 17. Martin, who Fisher was battling for second, had a flat during the yellow flag that ensued.
Fisher said he used softer tires than most of the other drivers that night, but ran in the wetter portion of the track in the early going to save his tires. Once he saw his opponents starting to drop, that’s when he capitalized and outdistanced Jon Corbin for the win.
The rookie led all 20 laps in his win June 16 at Springfield Raceway, something that is mentally taxing on a driver.
“It’s very nerve-wracking to lead a race, the only lap I like to lead is the last lap,” Fisher said. “It’s hard to lead a race because you don’t know the pace to set, you don’t know where everybody else is running at. ... It’s just hard leading a race.”
The 17-year-old plans to run a full WOW schedule again this year and plans to compete for the points title once again. He said he wants to run in more American Sprint Car Series races this season as well.
WOW opens its season April 5 at LA Raceway.