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Indianapolis 500 2009
Franchitti leaves Indy as points leader: Dario Franchitti didn't win the Indianapolis 500, but he finds himself atop the IndyCar Series standings as the series heads to The Milwaukee Mile for the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 on May 31.
Franchitti took over the points lead with his seventh-place finish in the "500." He holds a five-point advantage over race winner Helio Castroneves. Two years ago, when Franchitti won the Indianapolis 500, he left Indy third in points - just three points behind current teammate Scott Dixon and two points behind Dan Wheldon.
In 2007, Franchitti took over the points lead at Milwaukee and held onto to it for all but one week en route to winning the series championship.
FRANCHITTI WINS TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH
LONG BEACH, Calif. (Sunday, April 19, 2009) – Dario Franchitti drove a strong race and benefitted from two well-timed pit stops to win the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The victory was the ninth of Franchitti’s career and the 25th for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Franchitti started second but lost two spots in the first turn of the 85-lap race. He moved back up to second on Lap 15 before pitting on Lap 16. The stop for tires and fuel proved to be fortuitous as contact by Mike Conway brought out a full-course caution two laps later. As the rest of the field cycled through pit stops, Franchitti took the lead on Lap 32.
Franchitti benefited from a similar scenario later in the race, pitting under green conditions on Lap 53, one lap before another full-course caution. From that point, Franchitti led the final 29 laps, opening up a lead of several seconds over pole sitter Will Power.
“I got lots of Champ Car street and road course wins, but I haven’t had one in the IndyCar Series, so to finally get one feels good for all kinds of reasons. After everything we went through last year and then Chip (Ganassi) coming up and saying, ‘Hey, do you want to drive my Indy car?’ And now we’re back here winning together. Having finished second to his cars here twice I said to him last night, ‘If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,’ and here we are. Thanks to my crew and the whole Target team. It’s good to be back and see full grandstands and see a buzz at the track. Great day.”
Power finished second in the No. 12 Team Verizon Wireless car, two days after relinquishing the seat of the No. 3 Team Penske entry to Helio Castroneves. Castroneves finished seventh in his first race of the season.
“It was a great day. We had no radio and no telemetry, so I was doing it off the steering wheel and off the pit board. I’m very happy. Second is very good. I feel happy for all the guys. They put a lot of effort in. I really want to thank Roger Penske and Tim Cindric for bringing this Verizon Wireless car here for me. I really appreciate it. They’ve given me a fantastic ride, and I can’t thank them enough.”
Andretti Green Racing drivers Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti all finished in the top 10 despite starting 11th or worse. Kanaan finished third, while Patrick improved from 22nd to fourth. Andretti finished sixth.
Dario's Official Website:
Dario Franchitti returns to the IndyCar Series in 2009 with Target Chip Ganassi Racing for his sixth season.
Age: 35 (Birthday is May 19, 1983)
Career Starts: 67
Career Victories: 8
Career Top-Five Finishes: 30
Career Top-10 Finishes: 46
Career Poles: 7
Career Highlights: Won the IndyCar Series championship in 2007 with four victories, including the Indianapolis 500 while driving for Andretti Green Racing.
"I'm very excited to be coming back to the IndyCar Series. I think the unified series is excellent news. I think the schedule for next year was a big part of my decision, plus the chance to drive for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, which is a great team. I have competed against the team for I guess 10 or 11 years in open-wheel. I know how difficult they are to beat. I'm really looking forward to being a part of the team going forward and having Scott as a teammate."
Dario Franchitti at Daytona International Speedway in Pre-season Testing
Photo By NASCAR
Photo By NASCAR
TomTom for Franchitti at Milwaukee
It would have been a lot more fun for Dario Franchitti to drive the No. 10 TomTom car for Target Chip Ganassi Racing at, say, Toronto or Edmonton - multi-turn temporary circuits where he hasn't competed in some time - than at The Milwaukee Mile.
A portable navigation system isn't necessary at The Mile, which hosts the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 this weekend. The oval road course (because of its relatively low banking) is flat out on a pair of quarter-mile drag strips with four turns.
TomTom also will be the primary sponsor of the No. 10 entry for the June 21 race at Iowa Speedway. Franchitti, who enters the race with a five-point lead over Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves in the IndyCar Series standings, has a pair of runner-up finishes (to Sam Hornish Jr. in 2005 and then-Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan in '07) in three visits to The Mile in IndyCar Series competition.
"We look forward to a successful partnership in 2009, and to seeing our drivers navigate themselves into the winner's circle all year," Chip Ganassi Racing Teams president Steve Lauletta said.
Dario, looking back now, do you regret the decision to try NASCAR or do you still feel that was a challenge you could see if you could succeed at?
"Absolutely not. I don't regret the decision at all. I'd liked it to have turned out differently; I'd like to have been successful. But for all the reasons we know, losing the sponsorship and things, it didn't work out. So I'm pretty lucky that I went to go over there, had the chance to try that as sort of a experiment, and then get to come back here and jump straight into the best seat in the paddock. That wasn't lost on me the fact that I was able to do that. It was, and as I said before, it feels really good to be back driving the IndyCar, such a thrill of driving these things. And that was the one thing when I jumped back in the car for the first time, the smile it put on my face, the fun and the thrill I get from driving an IndyCar."NASCAR Photo
Born. May 18, 1973 in Bathgate, West Lothian) is a Scottishracing driver of Italian descent. He is the 2007 IndyCar Series champion. He used to compete in the IndyCar Series, formerly drove in the CART series, and won the rain-shortened 2007 Indianapolis 500. He also competed in the American Le Mans Series for Andretti Green Racing with his brother Marino and former IndyCar Series teammate Bryan Herta.
Franchitti began his racing career in karts, winning the Scottish Junior Championship in 1984, the British Junior Championships in 1985 and 1986 and the Scottish senior title in 1988. He progressed to Formula Vauxhall Junior where he won the championship with four victories in 1991.
He moved up to Formula Vauxhall Lotus in 1992, where he joined Paul Stewart Racing. In his first year, he finished fourth in the overall championship, and was named the McLaren/Autosport Young Driver of the Year. Staying with the team for the next season, he won the championship in 1993.
He graduated to the British Formula Three Championship in 1994, where he finished fourth and won one race in his first year. However, he was not retained for 1995 and this was his final year in single-seaters in Europe.
Instead, Franchitti was contracted by AMG Racing to drive a works Mercedes C-Class in the German Touring Car Championship and the related International Touring Car Championship, where he finished fifth and third respectively. He continued in the ITC in 1996, finishing fourth overall with one race win.
With the demise of the ITC, Mercedes placed Franchitti in Hogan Racing in 1997, making his US debut in the PPG/CART Champ Car World Series series. His best finish was ninth place. In 1998 he joined Team Green (forerunner to the current Andretti Green Racing), finishing 3rd in the season standings with three wins and five pole-positions.
Franchitti finished as the runner-up in the 1999 CART series behind Juan Pablo Montoya. Both drivers finished the season with a score of 212 points, but Montoya had seven wins to Franchitti's three and was thus crowned champion. Franchitti's close friend Greg Moore died in a crash during the final race of the year at California Speedway in Fontana, California.
A heavy crash in pre-season testing the next year ruined Franchitti's 2000 season, and he only won once in 2001. In 2002 he won the Vancouver Molson Indy. He dedicated his win to Greg Moore, who lived in Vancouver before dying in 1999. He finished 4th in Champ Car in 2002.
Indy Racing League
Franchitti moved with the Andretti Green team to the IndyCar Series in 2003 but his season was ended by a back injury sustained in a motorcycle accident while on holiday in Scotland. Franchitti missed most of the year, and his place was taken by Dan Wheldon at Motegi, Robby Gordon at Indianapolis and Bryan Herta for the remainder of the year. Franchitti returned to the cockpit in 2004, and won races at Milwaukee and Pikes Peak.
On January 3, 2007, Andretti Green Racing announced that Franchitti had re-signed for the IRL team for a tenth consecutive season in American Open Wheel racing. He is also undertaking a limited programme driving an Acura ARX01a in the American Le Mans Series, teaming up with long-time AGR team-mate Bryan Herta and Dario's brother, Marino Franchitti. . On May 27, 2007, Franchitti won a rain-shortened Indianapolis 500, finishing under a yellow flag after an accident involving Dan Wheldon and Marco Andretti following lap 163. The race was halted due to rain three laps later.
During the 2007 season, Franchitti survived two huge crashes which saw his car flip upside down both times. The first at Michigan saw him tangle with Dan Wheldon resulting in his car flipping before being hit again by Scott Dixon. The contact with Dixon was only inches away from his head and the accident saw seven cars (including Franchitti) retire from the race. The second flip came a week later at Kentucky. As Franchitti crossed the start/finish line to finish the race, the Scotsman who had not realised the chequered flag had been waved continued to race and crashed into the back of Kosuke Matsuura flipping yet again and hitting the outside wall. Franchitti took full responsibility for the incident.
Franchitti finished 1st in points for the 2007 season with four wins under his belt. He finished ahead of Scott Dixon by just 13 points, after Dixon ran out of fuel on the last lap of the season-ending race, allowing Franchitti to win.
On To NASCAR…
On September 9, 2007, media speculation rose that Chip Ganassi Racing would formally announce that Franchitti would be replacing David Stremme in the #40 Dodge Charger stock car in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
On October 3, 2007, it was announced that Franchitti will make his move to NASCAR replacing David Stremme in the #40 Dodge. He made his stock car debut in the ARCA RE/MAX Series on October 5 at Talladega Superspeedway, qualifying 6th and finishing 17th in the #42 TargetDodge Charger for Chip Ganassi Racing. His move to stock cars is similar to his good friend and former CART rival Juan Pablo Montoya's move from Formula 1 to NASCAR in 2006.
Franchitti made his first NASCAR start on October 20, 2007 in the Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway. He drove the #41 Target Dodge Ram truck, owned by Cunningham Motorsports, with Brian Pattie from Chip Ganassi Racing serving as crew chief. He would finish 33rd after being plagued by rear end problems during the race.
On The Personal Side…
Though Bathgate-born, his family moved to Whitburn when he was 8 years old. He is a former pupil of Stewart's Melville College and despite his local football clubs being Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian of Edinburgh, he chose to support Celtic Football Club.
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