Dario Franchitti, the winningest British driver in U.S. open-wheel history, returned full-time to the IndyCar Series with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2009 and picked up right where he left off; winning the IndyCar Series Driver Championship for the second time in his illustrious career.
After transitioning to the Ganassi team’s NASCAR program in 2008, the 2007 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Champion returned to open wheel racing alongside teammate and reigning Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Champion, Scott Dixon. Dario captured five race wins (Long Beach, Iowa, Toronto, Sonoma and Homestead) and posted five pole positions during his 2009 campaign. He finished 16 of the 17 races, recorded 13 Top-5 finishes, 15 Top-10 finished and led 495 laps. Not bad for a driver who spent a year away from IndyCars…
Before trying his hand in the world of stock car racing, Franchitti posted four wins and four pole positions in 2007, en route to his first IndyCar Series championship with Andretti Green Racing. 2010 will be his second full season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Since the open-wheel merger and with the IndyCar Series schedule comprised of an equal blend of ovals, street & road courses, Franchitti was an odds-on-favorite to again contend for the series championship and he did. For the first time since 2002, Dario returned to Southern California for the Grand Prix of Long Beach and won the race he was previously a runner-up at in 1998 and 1999. The series also traveled to the familiar downtown streets of Toronto in July and once again Franchitti recorded a race win just like he did in 1999 during his racing days in CART.
Over the course of his open-wheel career, Franchitti has accumulated a wealth of experience and trophies in his time on the track. He has almost 200 starts under his belt between the CART and IndyCar Series resulting in 23 wins, 24 poles, 122 top-10 finishes (1997-2010). He’s won races on road courses, street courses, short ovals and superspeedways and he is one of only 12 drivers to win a race in the IndyCar Series and CART.
With his immeasurable drive and a renewed excitement to be back in the unified IndyCar Series, no one doubts Franchitti can again vie for the Borg Warner Trophy and win his third driver’s championship in 2010.
Q & A
Dario’s Italian food restaurant order:
“Start with a caprese salad. My Mom and Dad make an awesome meat sauce with any kind of pasta and I absolutely love it, but if I was in a restaurant I would order a pasta with meat sauce or perhaps a light salmon sauce over pasta. For dessert, I would order coffee ice cream or tiramisu.”
Favorite pleasure food or race-win indulgence:
“In-N-Out Burger is the big one. Pizza is a definite go-to food. Who doesn’t like pizza? Occasionally, I’ll have a cheeseburger and a soda or a cold beer or a bottle of IRN BRU, but that’s only every once in awhile.”
If Dario could own houses in any cities around the world, they would be:
“Well outside my house now in the Scottish countryside, I would definitely have a house in Edinburgh. Sydney, Australia would be on my list. Probably somewhere in Europe like Paris or Rome. A place in a ski town in the Austrian or Swiss Alps would be fantastic. New York or Los Angeles would probably make my list. Oh! And a place in Key Biscayne next to my buddy Tony Kanaan.”
Favorite racing movies:
“Well definitely not the movie Driven. That was awful. Grand Prix was a great film. Steve McQueen’s LeMans was another good film. Cannonball Run was kind of cool even it was kind of cheesy. The original Italian Job was great with all the Minis and the Lamborghini at the start. Any film that has a 60’s or 70’s cool Italian V12 Ferrari or Lamborghini in it is cool in my book.”
Musical groups on Dario’s iPod:
“Anything from U2. The Killers. Obviously Travis is on there. Wynonna. Paulo Nutini. A bunch of Scottish groups. I’m only going to tell you the stuff that I’m not embarrassed about. I have a few questionable ones. I’ve got a wide variety of music across a lot of different genres."
Last concert Dario went to:
“I got to go backstage for the U2 concert in Boston. And for my birthday last year, I was in the front row for the Billy Joel/Elton John concert in Indianapolis. I went with my wife, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, my Dad, my engineer and some dear friends. It was a nice break during the month of May at Indy and an awesome birthday present!"
If Dario wasn’t racing, he would be:
“I enjoy playing around with currency and the stock market, so maybe something in investing. The one thing I wish I was able to do would be…do you know those guys who restore old cars? Like the old muscle cars or vintage Ferraris or Duesenbergs. I went to Jay Leno’s garage the other day to see his car collection and all the guys he has working there can fabricate parts and restore these cars to the way they were. I would love to have the ability to do that. I’ve just never really spent any time playing mechanic on cars and that’s something I wish I could do.”
Favorite cake or pie:
“When I was a kid and went to school, there was this lady there that made some kind of caramel cake with a hard crust and I loved that cake. My buddy Alan, who went to school with me, for my birthday, found the recipe and gave it to my wife, so every now and then I get to have that.”
In Dario’s refrigerator you would find:
“Tons of Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate from the UK, not from the States. Plenty of IRN BRU from Scotland. Bottled water. Lots of Brummel & Brown spread with fresh bread. Turkey or Prosciutto cold cuts.”