FORT WORTH, Texas (May 15, 2013) – Dario Franchitti enters the Indianapolis 500 looking to join prestigious company as he attempts to become just the fourth driver with four career victories in open-wheel racing’s most prestigious race – joining A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser.
Not only would an impressive fourth career victory in the Indianapolis 500 place him in elite company, a victory would put him in the familiar role of championship contender, something that Franchitti has not looked like to start the 2013 season.
Franchitti, a four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion (2007, ’09, ’10, ’11), limps into the Indianapolis 500 sitting 15th in the points standings, 66 points back of leader Takuma Sato. He started the season with a pair of 25th-place finishes but has regrouped with consecutive top 10 finishes at Long Beach (Calif.) and Sao Paulo (Brazil).
The change in momentum could come at the ideal time for Franchitti as the IZOD IndyCar Series enters a stretch of the schedule that features five oval races during the next six stops, including a visit to Texas Motor Speedway for the Firestone 550 on Saturday, June 8. He has grown to excel at oval racing through the course of his career and since 2009 he has tallied 11 wins and 25 top five finishes in 39 oval appearances.
He knows a return to the top of the points standings is possible, but understands the challenges that the competition provides as drivers now excel on both ovals and road/street courses.
“Unfortunately there is a good few of them that can do them both,” Franchitti said. “There is a list of drivers. (Tony) Kanaan, you name it. Obviously (Ryan) Hunter-Reay winning the championship last year. There are no specialists any more. There is no one guy you think, ‘Yeah, he is really good on a road course.’ It’s tough competition. Each week you show up at a track you’ve got to be in a position to win and you cannot be the weak spot as a driver. The team has got to give you the car. The engine has to be right. All those different things.”
Success at Texas Motor Speedway has not eluded Franchitti during his 10 career starts at the 1.5-mile speedway. He secured his first victory in the first of the two duel races during the Firestone Twin 275s in 2011, one of seven top 10 finishes he has tallied at Texas Motor Speedway.
With the change to IZOD IndyCar Series chassis last year, drivers experienced a new style of racing at Texas Motor Speedway. The changes eliminated the “pack” racing and put the onus back in the driver’s hands.
“It’s a completely different race than we’ve ever done there before,” Franchitti said. “I think it’s going to be an enjoyable race to drive. With this new package there is a lot of driving, you’ve got to use all the controls. Before you if you lifted you were finished. It was more like what NASCAR terms a restrictor plate race. You were driving the hell out of it but you were flat. Now you are using every control you’ve got. It’s going to be fun.”
The IZOD IndyCar Series returns for the Firestone 550 - "America's Original Nighttime IndyCar Race" - on Saturday, June 8. Tickets are available by calling the ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.