Former IRL star Franchitti struggling in NASCAR

INDIANAPOLIS — Just last year, Dario Franchitti was drinking milk and celebrating an Indianapolis 500 victory.

Now, he’s injured and struggling in NASCAR.

Even with a broken left ankle, the Scotsman was all smiles Monday as he stopped by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the site of his most important victory. He won the rain-shortened Indy 500 last May and went on to win the IndyCar series title before switching to NASCAR.

Franchitti hasn’t had a top 20 finish in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, so he was happy to reminisce about his victory last May.

“It’s really cool to be back, although kind of strange to be back and not driving,” he said. “This place has got a really special place in my heart.”

Franchitti still feels he made the right choice in leaving the IndyCar series after more than a decade of open-wheel racing, despite his rough start in NASCAR.

“No remorse at all making the move,” he said. “Definitely, for me, it was the right move at the right time.”

Franchitti said he got more than he bargained for when he made the decision to join Chip Ganassi Racing. He entered the week in 38th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.

“My reason was I wanted that new challenge, and, boy, did I get it,” he said.

Franchitti has been out of action since breaking his left ankle in a crash during the Aaron’s 312 Nationwide Series event last month in Talladega, Ala.

“The ankle’s a little bit sore right now, but it’s getting better,” he said. “The swelling’s going down, and I should be back pretty soon.”

Franchitti planned to see his doctor Monday afternoon in Indianapolis. He expects to be ready for the Coca-Cola 600, which shares a May 25 date with the Indy 500.

Before his doctor’s appointment, he hobbled around the media room with his left foot in a walking boot. His soreness didn’t seem to affect him as he admired his image on the Borg-Warner trophy, where every Indianapolis 500 winner’s likeness is engraved.

Franchitti still keeps up with IndyCar racing. He was happy to see former Andretti Green Racing teammate Danica Patrick win a race, and he was pleased when Champ Car merged with the IndyCar series. Franchitti also stays in touch with his IndyCar friends — he had dinner with former teammate Tony Kanaan on Sunday night.

He spends time talking to Sam Hornish Jr. about the IRL. Hornish, like Franchitti, left IndyCar racing for NASCAR after last season.

Franchitti said his NASCAR driving is a work in progress. Though his best finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series was 22nd in the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 in March, he said his best run was in Phoenix on April 12. He was running strong, but he made a pit stop, then got caught by a yellow flag three laps later and lost a lap before finishing 32nd.

Part of his challenge has been to accept that what he did as an IndyCar driver doesn’t carry over to NASCAR.

“I’m just getting comfortable with the balance of the car and how much you can slide the car around,” he said. “I’m getting used to compromising with the car as well. A little bit each week, but it’s moving in the right direction.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Lakewood High School.
Lakewood contests Week 3 game against B-E, wins WIAA appeal

The Cougars dispute an incorrectly spotted ball by officials on a penalty-riddled play in the 3rd quarter. The game will resume from that point in Week 10.

Monroe junior quarterback Blake Springer looks for an open receiver on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022 in Monroe, Washington. (Katie Webber / The Herald)
Week 4 prep football leaderboard

A look at the area’s top passers, rushers and receivers through three weeks of the season.

Prep roundup for Wednesday, Sept. 20

Prep roundup for Wednesday, Sept. 20: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Sept. 11-17

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Sept. 11-17. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Marysville Pilchuck’s Kenai Sinaphet bruises the defense on a run against Marysville Getchell during the Berry Bowl on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, at Quil Ceda Stadium in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Associated Press high school football poll for Week 4

Marysville Pilcuck joins the top 10 in Class 3A; Lake Stevens remains No. 1 in 4A.

AquaSox pitcher Reid VanScoter delivers a pitch during a game against the Vancouver Canadians on Thursday, June 8, 2023, at Funko Field in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Community roundup: AquaSox’s VanScoter, Scott honored by NWL

Plus, GP grad Matt King is named to USA Swimming’s national team, Daniel Arias is waived by the Cardinals and more.

Minnesota Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson is shown during batting practice before a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 bio: Rick Anderson

The 1975 Mariner graduate spent 16 seasons as an MLB pitching coach with the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers.

Arlington’s Emme Shaffer reacts to scoring point during the game against Stanwood on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
GALLERY: Arlington beats Stanwood in rivalry matchup

The Eagles earn a 3-1 win over the Spartans in the volleyball edition of the Stilly Cup.

Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi celebrates after his goal against the New York Red Bulls during an MLS soccer match at Red Bull Arena, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in Harrison, N.J. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
How an Everett icon helped change U.S. soccer forever

Cascade alum Chris Henderson, Inter Miami’s chief soccer officer and sporting director, played a part in bringing megastar Lionel Messi to the U.S.

Most Read