Slight changes give Franchitti edge in 2007

He is on a roll after winning the Indy 500

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(August 2007) – After a tough 2006 season in which he finished eighth in the IndyCar Series driver’s championship, Dario Franchitti made a few changes. Those changes included the return of a major sponsor and some crew adjustments, and the moves have appeared to pay off. As of late July, Franchitti led the 2007 Indy Racing League’s IndyCar Series driver points standing.

Dario Franchitti

Photo courtesy of the IRL

Andretti Green Racing’s
Dario Franchitti is the
current drivers points
leader, finishing in the
top seven in every race
of the 2007 season.

Franchitti, who has a 24-point lead over Target Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon, will try to further that lead when he takes to the oval at the Aug. 11 Kentucky Speedway “Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Edy’s.”
Entering his 10th season with Andretti Green Racing, Franchitti has accumulated a wealth of experience and racing trophies in his time on the race, including last May’s victory at the Indianapolis 500. That accomplishment made him only the second Scottish-born driver to win it since Jim Clark in 1965.
So far this season, he also captured his 16th career race win at Iowa Speedway to surpass Alex Zanardi as Honda’s all-time winningest driver.
In his July 22 race in the inaugural Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Franchitti finished second after he was forced to slow down to avoid contact with teammate Marco Andretti. Andretti left the race after an incident in the first turn.
“We kind of messed up there on the start because we had Scott Dixon covered, but then Danica Patrick slid and Tony Kanaan spun avoiding her, and then Marco got involved,” Franchitti said after the race. “I had to check up to avoid getting wiped out by Tony and that was a lot of the race right there.”
This marked his 11th straight top-five finish, and it made him the only driver in the IndyCar Series to have finished all 12 races of the season in the top seven.
He has won races on road courses, street courses, short ovals and superspeedways. And he is only one of 12 drivers to win a race in the IndyCar Series and CART. Additionally, he is the winningest British driver in American open-wheel racing history.

• Distance: 200 laps, 300 miles (1.5-mile tri-oval)
• Qualifying: 6:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10
• Race: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11
• TV-Radio: ESPN2 (live).
• Admission: $40-$70. Gates open 3 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.

Also at the Speedway:
• IRL Pro Series’ “Kentucky 150.” (67 laps, 100 miles).
9 p.m. Saturday, with qualifying at 5 p.m. Friday.
• “Disney Radio Fanfest.” 7:30 p.m. Friday with driver autograph session and live entertainment. Tickets $20.
• “The Jonas Brothers” perform at 4:30 p.m. Saturday before the race.
IndyCar Series Drivers to Watch
• Dario Franchitti, 34, Nashville, Tenn. The Italian is hot this year and leads the points race.
• Sam Hornish, 23, Defiance, Ohio. He has won twice at Kentucky and placed second and third here.
• Helio Castroneves, 32, Coral Gables, Fla. Last year’s pole winner is a contender.
• Website: www.nascar.com

In addition to driving a full IndyCar Series schedule of 17 races in his No. 27 Canadian Club car, Franchitti will join teammate Bryan Herta in driving the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio entry in the American Le Mans Series at a number of key events. He will get the chance to drive alongside his younger brother, Marino, who will also drive in select races for Team Green. This will be Andretti Green Racing’s first season participating in the series.
Although the 34-year-old Franchitti was born and raised in Scotland, he is of Italian descent. He currently resides in Nashville, Tenn., with his wife, actress and Kentucky native Ashley Judd. Judd’s mother and sister, Naomi and Wynonna, were part of the superstar country music duo, The Judds.
Franchitti loves to collect Ferraris and has added to his collection the Ferrari 250 GTO, a Ferrari Enzo and a Ferrari F40. He is a licensed helicopter pilot; he flies a Eurocopter AS350 B3.
He enjoys working out, cycling, reading and playing video games, and he loves to watch Glasgow Celtic Football. He admires fellow Scotsman and award-winning actor Sean Connery and is an avid fan of James Bond movies. His favorite musicians include Elton John, U2 and his sister-in-law, Wynonna.

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