Franchitti returning to IndyCar; replacing Wheldon at Ganassi
Franchitti will pair up with
"Part of the reason that I signed with Ganassi last year was because of how many options that Chip has at his disposal for a driver," Franchitti said. "You can do almost any form of racing that you want. With unification and the new schedule having more road and street courses, it made me think about this more and more. I have really enjoyed this last season in stock cars and have not completely closed that chapter of my professional career, but the opportunity that arose was just something I could not pass up."
Franchitti has over 180 starts in CART and IndyCar with 18 wins, 17 poles, 63 top-five and 95 top-10 finishes (1997-2007). He is the winningest British driver in U.S. open-wheel history. He was part of the winning Rolex 24 at Daytona team this year for Ganassi and also captured the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring in the LMP2 Class in his first ever American Le Mans Series start in 2007. This creates a team that will have the last two Indy 500 winners as they take the green flag next year in St. Petersburg.
"It is going to be very exciting to have Dario in one of our IndyCars next year," team owner
Wheldon's departure should come as no surprise after Ganassi tried to hire
After that, Wheldon knew his time at Ganassi was coming to an end even after driving Ganassi's car to two victories in 2008.
By joining Panther Racing, Wheldon replaces
"I'm very excited to be joining the entire Panther Racing crew," Wheldon said. "This is the place where I started my career in 2002 and with the personnel and leadership that
Wheldon signed with the team in June 2002 under a testing agreement. It was later the same year, at Chicagoland, that Wheldon made his debut for Panther, finishing 10th. He also started at Texas Motor Speedway and finished 15th despite not even making a qualification attempt.
"It's hard to describe the level of excitement and emotions all of us at Panther have knowing that Dan has come back to drive for us," Panther Managing Partner and CEO
Wheldon has 15 IndyCar Series victories; five Poles, 54 top 5 and 72 top 10 finishes in his 96 starts in the league. His 15 wins rank him third all-time in IndyCar Series history, and his 2,735 laps led are the third most in the history of the series.