By Helen E. McKinney
(September 2011) Scottish-born Dario Franchitti return to the Kentucky Speedway on Oct. 2 to compete in the IZOD-IndyCar Series 300. The green flag falls at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Distance: 300 laps, 450 miles (1.5-mile tri-oval)
Race: 2 p.m. Sunday,
Oct. 2. Gates open 9 a.m.
Radio: SiriusXM Radio
Admission: $50-80 on Sunday (IndyCar Series); $30-$40 on Saturday
Also at the Speedway:
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race (225 miles) 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1
Firestone Indy Lights Series race (100 miles)
11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 2
Past IndyCar Winners at
2010: Helio Castroneves
2009: Ryan Briscoe
2008: Scott Dixon
2007: Tony Kanaan
2006: Sam Hornish Jr.
2005: Scott Sharp
2004: Adrian Fernandez
2003: Sam Hornish Jr.
2002: Felipe Giaffone
2001: Buddy Lazier
2000: Buddy Lazier
Franchitti is having great success in 2011, now in his third season for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Franchitti won the season-opening road race at St. Petersburg, Fla. He garnered additional wins at Texas Motor Speedway and Milwaukee 225.
Recently, he finished second at Mid-Ohio, right behind his teammate, Scott Dixon.
A three-time reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion since joining the team in 2009, Franchitti has delivered back-to-back IZOD IndyCar Series titles. Hes scored 11 wins, and his 2010 championship season marked his third consecutive series championship.
With success on his side, he won the 2010 Indianapolis 500. Franchitti, a Nashville, Tenn., resident, is one of only five drivers to win this race and the series title in the same season more than once.
Recently, Franchitti led for 115 of the opening 119 laps in the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway until he encountered an on-track incident. This left him in 20th position, behind Dixon, who placed third.
Franchitti formerly competed in the CART series before making the move to the IndyCar Series, being named the 2007 champion. He briefly competed as a NASCAR driver for Chip Ganassi Racing until mid-2008. He returned to the IndyCar Series for the 2009 season driving the No. 10 Target Honda-Dallara.
Franchitti has earned 227 starts between CART and the IZOD IndyCar Series. He holds the distinction of being only one of 12 drivers to win a race in CART and the IndyCar Series.
Franchittis career from 1997 to 2011 includes 30 wins, 27 poles, 104 top-five and 144 top-10 finishes. Before giving stock car racing a try, he posted four wins and four pole positions in 2007 along the way to his first IndyCar Series championship with Andretti Green Racing.
Known as one of the winningest drivers from Great Britain in U.S. open-wheel history, Franchitti has set the bar with his experience and trophies. He has won races on road courses, street courses, short ovals and superspeedways.
After giving the Ganassi teams NASCAR program a try in 2008, Franchitti returned to open wheel racing. He racked up race wins in Long Beach, Iowa, Toronto, Sonoma and Homestead, posting five pole positions. Even after spending a year away from the IndyCar Series, he finished 10 out of 17 races, had 13 top-five finishes, 15 top-ten finishes and led 495 laps.
Like his teammate, Dixon, Franchitti became interested in karting early in his career. While attending Stewarts Melville College in Edinburgh, he pursued this interest and won the Karting Scottish Junior Championship in 1984, the British Junior Championship in 1985 and 1986, and the Scottish senior title in 1988.
He next progressed to Formula Vauxhall Junior, taking home the championship with four victories in 1991. A year later he moved up to Formula Vauxhall Lotus where he joined Paul Stewart Racing. Franchitti finished fourth in the overall championship and was named the McLaren/Autosport Young Driver of the Year.
His career continued to soar throughout the decade and he made his U.S. debut in 1997 in the PPG/CART Champ Car World Series. Franchittis best finish was a ninth at Surfers Paradise in Australia. A year later he joined Team Green (forerunner to the current Andretti Green Racing) and finished third in season standings with three wins and a season-high five pole positions.
Franchitti earned a spot as runner-up in the 1999 CART season, running right behind rookie Juan Pablo Montoya. Even though both tied with 212 points, Montoya had earned seven wins to Franchittis three wins, making him champion.
By 2003, Franchitti had moved to the IndyCar Series. But his season was not a lucky one as it was cut short due to a back injury sustained in a motorcycle accident while on vacation in Scotland. As a result, Franchitti was out most of the year.
He returned in 2004, winning his first IRL IndyCar Series race on July 25 at the Milwaukee Mile. A return to Andretti Green Racing earned him two wins, the first at Nashville and the second at California.
In 2007, Franchitti re-signed for the IRL team for his tenth consecutive season in American Open Wheel racing. On May 27, 2007, he won a rain-shortened Indianapolis 500. Franchitti also survived two huge crashes during the 2007 season at Michigan and Kentucky.
Upon spending a season with NASCAR, he won his first NASCAR Nationwide Pole at Watkins Glen on August 9, 2008. Franchitti proved to skeptics that he was able to successfully blend both styles of racing. He is also a licensed helicopter pilot.
He successfully returned to IndyCar racing and snagged five wins, two second and two third placings and took the series championship. In 2010, a win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway gave him his 24th win in American Open-wheel driving and placed him in the top 20 of all-time. It also gave him the honor of being the 18th multiple-win driver in the history of the Indianapolis 500.