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. Sebastian Saavedra leads at halfway in IndyCar season finale (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Will Power and Juan Montoya must fight from the back of the field following an accident.

  2. Robin Miller pays tribute to Justin Wilson (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 5:01 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Robin Miller remembers Justin Wilson in this touching tribute.

  3. Webber elated with “awesome” first WEC victory

    Aug 30, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    © FIA WEC © FIA WEC

    Webber and the no. 17 Porsche crew claimed their first win at the 6 Hours of Nürburgring on Sunday.

  4. INDYCAR confirms Chevrolet wins fourth straight Manufacturer’s Championship

    Aug 30, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    ChevySTPdomination AP

    Chevrolet wins its fourth straight INDYCAR Manufacturer’s Championship.

  5. WATCH LIVE: IndyCar’s championship decided in Sonoma at 1 p.m. PT, 4 ET on NBCSN

    Aug 30, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    SonomaTitle AP

    With heavy hearts, IndyCar moves ahead and will crown its champion this afternoon in Sonoma.

  6. WATCH: Red Bull Global Rallycross midseason review at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT

    GRCDaytona Getty Images

    Catch up on the Red Bull Global Rallycross season at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

  7. Maldonado: Good feeling heading into Italian GP weekend

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 21, 2015 in Spa, Belgium. Getty Images

    Maldonado keen to make up for his DNF in the Belgian Grand Prix at Monza.

  8. What to watch for: IndyCar at Sonoma (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Live Extra)

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    SonomaW2W4 AP

    What to watch for ahead of the 16th and final round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma from Sonoma Raceway.

  9. Will Power fastest in final IndyCar practice at Sonoma

    Aug 30, 2015, 1:42 PM EDT

    PowerWarmup AP

    Pole-sitter Will Power claimed the fastest time in the 30-minute session.

  10. Porsche’s no. 17 car surges to maiden WEC victory in 6 Hours of Nürburgring

    Aug 30, 2015, 1:01 PM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 10:  The Porsche Team 919 Hybrid of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley drives during practice for the FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Silverstone at Silverstone Circuit on April 10, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard claim their first WEC victory since joining forces at the beginning of the 2014 season.

  11. Grosjean: Lotus E23 Hybrid better suited to Monza than Spa

    Aug 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 23:  Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus celebrates on the podium after finishing third in the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 23, 2015 in Spa, Belgium.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Grosjean sets his sights on repeating his third-place finish in Belgium last weekend.

  12. Audi boss Ullrich laughs off continual F1 rumors

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    LE MANS, FRANCE - JUNE 11:  Wolfgang Ullrich of Austria, Head of Audi Motorsport looks on during practice on June 11, 2014 in Le Mans, France.  (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images) Getty Images

    “If somebody wants to go into Formula 1 and they think that they can do it from one to the next year, I think he shouldn’t try to do it.”

  13. Trefethen Family Vineyards combines Napa tradition, PWC racing at Sonoma

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:13 AM EDT

    Lorenzo Trefethen. All Photos: Tony DiZinno Lorenzo Trefethen. All Photos: Tony DiZinno

    While there’s no shortage of wineries in Napa Valley, few have racing tie-ins, and fewer still get a racing tie-in at Sonoma Raceway – here’s the story of the Trefethen Family Vineyards.

  14. MotoGP: Rossi wins British GP as Marquez crashes out

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:04 AM EDT

    Italy’s Valentino Rossi of Movistar Yamaha on his way to finish in fourth position during Moto GP qualifying at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, England, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira) AP

    Rossi wins a wet-weather thriller to regain the lead of the MotoGP world championship.

  15. MotorSportsTalk’s IndyCar championship pre-Sunday post round-up

    Aug 30, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    GoldenGatePosts AP

    In case you missed it, a look back at the week’s worth of coverage in the lead-up to Sonoma.

  16. Webber: WEC something for Button to consider for 2016

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:00 AM EDT

    during warm-up for the Le Mans 24 Hour race at the Circuit de la Sarthe on June 13, 2015 in Le Mans, France. Getty Images

    Webber jumped from F1 to WEC at the end of 2013 with Porsche, but could Button do the same?

  17. WATCH LIVE: Sonoma qualifying at 3:30 p.m. PT, 6:30 ET, on NBCSN

    Aug 29, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    QualsWatchLive AP

    Power is only active driver in the field with a pole since 2008 at Sonoma.

  18. MotoGP: Marquez clinches pole for British Grand Prix

    Aug 29, 2015, 4:19 PM EDT

    MarquezIndyGPpole Getty Images

    Marquez beats his own lap record for pole position at Silverstone.