Skip to content

Franchitti set to pace field, take in 2014 Indy 500 from outside the cockpit

May 25, 2014, 7:45 AM EDT

Dario5002014 Getty Images

Of all the 2013 drivers who aren’t in the 2014 race, one stands heads and shoulders above the crowd in terms of accomplishments and accolades: Dario Franchitti.

The three-time Indianapolis 500, and four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion, was forced to retire due to injuries sustained in an accident last October in Houston.

But the adverse effect has happened instead of him slowing down after not driving 230 mph. Franchitti told me Friday during the Carb Day pit stop competition he’s busier than ever, and so is the case where even over the course of our 20-or so minute conversation, there were multiple picture requests and a phone call from brother Marino back in Scotland.

He’s still active in several aspects, between his advisory role with Target Chip Ganassi Racing and some commentary and ambassadorial roles.

“I offered to change tires for them, but they turned me down,” Franchitti joked during an NBCSN interview on Carb Day.

He has more time away from the cockpit when he is in the U.S., but he’s being pulled in so many other directions than when he was a driver and had a single focus.

But now, from the outside, he sees what drivers go through in their zone, in their element, for the entire month of May.

“I am loving life, but it’s a little different,” he said. “You don’t have the pressure or hardness either. What you go through is extraordinary. You can get short-tempered. I thought when I saw these guys, I couldn’t do that right now.

“I don’t have that level of (driving) commitment right now. I’m in the right place. I’m having fun and still being part of the IndyCar Series and Team Target.”

One part of his workload that he can translate is playing analyst – both for the quartet of Chip Ganassi Racing entries and additionally for the rest of the field. Franchitti described how his former teammates are shaping up for today’s race.

“(Tony) Kanaan’s car is very strong as is (Scott) Dixon’s. Charlie (Kimball) and Ryan are happy (Briscoe),” he said. “Going 1-2 this morning was strong. The boys were happy in traffic. It’s one of those days, where the whole Target team has done a great job. We’re seeing that result today.”

There is that one other key part of Franchitti’s 2014 month of May – his role as pace car driver in the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R. And he told reporters Saturday morning that yes, he’s nervous.

“I just don’t want to mess it up,” he said. “There’s 33 of my contemporaries, it’s the most important thing of the year. I joked with Will (Power) about brake checking him on one of the laps.”

Now, Franchitti can take in the entire race morning experience from a different perspective.

“I can’t wait to be on the grid, soak up the atmosphere for the first time,” he said. “My job before was to walk out and focus. Now this year I can soak it all in.”

Latest Posts
  1. Carlin, Jones welcomed to America in their first weekend in Indy Lights

    Apr 1, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Photo: Carlin Photo: Carlin

    A double pole, double win debut weekend for Trevor Carlin’s team was a statement – but the team’s big takeaway was how different the U.S. environment is.

  2. Dixon on St. Pete: “The car was better than what I got out of it”

    Apr 1, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT

    DixonStP AP

    A challenging weekend for Scott Dixon occurs from qualifying through the race in St. Petersburg.

  3. Pierre Gasly to test for Toro Rosso at Barcelona

    Apr 1, 2015, 12:18 PM EDT

    ®GP2 Series Media Service ®GP2 Series Media Service

    Pierre Gasly to test STR10 after Spanish Grand Prix weekend in May.

  4. DiZinno: St. Pete provides solid 2015 season kickoff, but issues some warning signs

    Apr 1, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    STPcolumn AP

    While St. Petersburg had its positives as a weekend, Tony DiZinno reflects on two disconcerting themes that emerged from the race itself.

  5. American Alexander Rossi looks ahead to the GP2 season (VIDEO)

    Apr 1, 2015, 10:03 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Russia - Practice Getty Images

    Alexander Rossi looks ahead to the upcoming GP2 season.

  6. Off The Grid Mexico Kicks Off on NBCSports.com (VIDEO)

    Mar 31, 2015, 6:04 PM EDT

    Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg AP

    Off the Grid Mexico kicks off with episode one of a six-part digital series.

  7. Mardenborough, two spectators released from hospital after Nurburgring accident

    Mar 31, 2015, 4:17 PM EDT

    Photo: NISMO Photo: NISMO

    Jann Mardenborough and two spectators were released after this weekend’s VLN crash at the Nurburgring.

  8. Patron ESM heads to Paul Ricard (VIDEO)

    Mar 31, 2015, 1:52 PM EDT

    Photo: Extreme Speed Motorsports Photo: Extreme Speed Motorsports

    ESM recaps its test from the Prologue at Paul Ricard.

  9. IMS releases statement in wake of Indiana RFRA legislation

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:47 PM EDT

    IMS Pagoda Getty Images

    IMS statement comes out after Indiana’s recent religious freedom legislation.

  10. IndyCar notes: Rahal’s questionable penalty, one-off drivers, rookies have tough days

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    KimballRahal AP

    Catching up on the rest of the action from St. Petersburg, with a run through the moments of contact that triggered avoidable contact penalties.

  11. The Rolling Stones to hit IMS on July 4

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT

    StonesIMS

    Rolling Stones to play at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

  12. Spectator injured but in stable condition after being hit by debris at St. Pete race

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:33 AM EDT

    StpDebris AP

    Loose debris hit by a car, then goes over wall and hits a fan outside Turn 10 at St. Petersburg.

  13. Hawksworth, Filippi score solid top-10s to open season at St. Petersburg

    Mar 30, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    HawkStp15 AP

    Hawksworth, Filippi impress on opening outings with their new teams in St. Petersburg.

  14. Experience trumps youth on IndyCar’s opening weekend with aero kits

    Mar 30, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    JPMSTPwin AP

    IndyCar’s “old guard” reigned in St. Petersburg, as the new manufacturer aero kits debuted.

  15. Moto GP: Rossi wins opening-round thriller in Qatar

    Mar 30, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    MotoGP Qatar Getty Images

    Victory number 70 of the Italian’s remarkable Moto GP career.

  16. Ecclestone considering creation of all-female grand prix series

    Mar 30, 2015, 1:35 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Practice Getty Images

    However, Williams test driver Susie Wolff believes that women should be reaching F1 in a more organic way.

  17. IndyCar: Bourdais opens strong for KVSH; Coletti impresses despite late stop for KV

    Mar 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    SebStp AP

    KVSH’s Bourdais gets result after a consistent drive; KV’s Coletti stars but fades after late race splash-and-dash for fuel.