May 25, 2014, 7:45 AM EDT
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.”
Jul 26, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT
The Hoonigan man dominates in the North Carolina dirt, while Nelson Piquet Jr. increases his lead in the GRC championship.
Jul 26, 2014, 2:59 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS – She readily admits the odds may be long, but Danica Patrick is not giving up on earning a win this season — and potentially making the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Jul 26, 2014, 2:53 PM EDT
Regarded as one of the most physically demanding dirt bike races in the world, the Red Bull Hare Scramble is an endurocross event unlike any other. Watch it on NBC at 3:00 PM E.T.
Jul 26, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT
Coming off last week’s win, is Eli Tomac ready to reel off a few more victories before the end of the season?
Jul 26, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
The sport continues to grow with races in Mexico and Azerbaijan, but will they prove to be hits?
Jul 26, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Red Bull team principal tells the media to be more positive.
Jul 26, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT
CLICK HERE for stream links to the fifth round of the 2014 Red Bull GRC season.
Jul 26, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
Starting his qualifying lap just before time ran out in the final round, Busch earns the pole for today’s Lilly Diabetes 250 with a lap of 179.888 mph.
Jul 26, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Vijay Mallya very happy with the form of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg in 2014.
Jul 26, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Finn challenged the decision not to run again in Q1, and was proven right when Jules Bianchi knocked him out of qualifying.
Jul 26, 2014, 12:50 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS – When Sunday’s 21st running of the Brickyard 400 is in the rearview mirror, we’re once again likely to hear significant griping about “did you see all the empty seats at Indy?”
Jul 26, 2014, 12:35 PM EDT
Petty: “Our main deal is not to run NASCAR. Anything we do to tear NASCAR down is cutting our own throats.”
Jul 26, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
Hamilton calls on Mercedes to improve the reliability of his car following yet another problem during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Jul 26, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
Williams driver continuing his run of good form despite the car not suiting the Hungaroring circuit.
Jul 26, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT
Four-time Brickyard 400 champion leads an abbreviated “Happy Hour” with a lap of 189.298 mph.
Jul 26, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
Defending world champion matches his best qualifying result of the season in Hungary.
Jul 26, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT
Ferrari driver delighted to qualify so well at the Hungaroring, and is now focusing on a good start in tomorrow’s race.
Jul 26, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT
German driver would have preferred a straight fight with Lewis Hamilton, but delighted all the same to bag pole in Hungary.
Jul 26, 2014, 9:10 AM EDT
Crazy qualifying session in Hungary ends with Rosberg at the front once again.
- Danica Patrick: ‘If I’m in a position to win, I feel perfectly ready’ 0
- Perception of sparse Brickyard 400 crowd not necessarily reality 2
- Hamilton: “As a team, we need to do better” 0
- Jimmie Johnson tops shortened final practice at Indy (UPDATED) 0
- Rosberg nails final Q3 lap to take fifth pole in six races 1