Franchitti joins legends with his second Indianapolis 500 victory
Franchitti was a "Racing Star" not a "Movie Star" in an Indianapolis 500 that had some of the biggest names in Hollywood in attendance, from
Nicholson loved the experience so much that he refused to come down from the flagstand for the first 30 laps of the race. He even waved the green flag on two restarts following caution periods.
But at the end of a 500 that ended dramatically while Franchitti was running low on fuel, this one will be remembered for Dario's dominance as he became an Indy 500 legend with his second victory in the world's biggest race.
He had the No. 10 Target/
"That move at the start, I knew the car was capable of it," Franchitti said. "I pulled on past him and it worked. From Lap 1 to Lap 200, I drove as hard as I could drive. Today, my car was perfect."
And that was a pace that no other car in the race could match. Because Franchitti was able to build a big enough lead, no one was able to catch him when he was forced to slow down to conserve fuel in the waning laps. Dan Wheldon tried but ended up second.
"I was concerned about running out of fuel, but it was just get to the finish," Franchitti said. "That last lap I saved a lot of fuel, but Dan was coming on."
It was a distance that Wheldon could not overcome as the race ended with a frightening crash when
It was the only blemish on an otherwise picture-perfect day at the Indianapolis 500.
"The good thing was at the start of the race Dario asserted himself on the start," said team owner
Ganassi's unique "Indy/Daytona Double" is impressive if not historic.
While listening to Ganassi speak about McMurray's accomplishment at Daytona, Franchitti couldn't help but interject, "I wish we had those cars in 2008."
That was the year Franchitti walked away from IndyCar and switched to NASCAR. He wanted a new challenge and that is exactly what he got because the team parked his car by the end of June that year for lack of sponsorship. That proved to be a blessing in disguise because it brought him back to IndyCar with one of the best teams in the business.
"It all worked out perfectly," Franchitti said. "It says a lot about Chip and the people he employs as well. The mindset whether he is here or in Concord, North Carolina, he is here to win. If you aren't interested in that then you shouldn't be here. To race for a team like that you know everybody is on it all the time."
Ganassi knew he had a winner when he hired Franchitti. After all, he was the driver that beat Ganassi's other driver,
"If I thought Dario didn't know how to drive he wouldn't be driving the car no matter what happened in NASCAR," Ganassi said. "I knew that he knew how to drive and was the best driver available when that seat became available. He was the best driver available to drive the car and he still is.
"His NASCAR experience, that was like a 'Semester at Sea.' I'm glad we did it and it's over with."
Franchitti grew up idolizing fellow Scotsman
With his second Indy 500 victory to go along with two IndyCar Series championships, Franchitti is now a racing legend in his homeland.
"I remember going to race tracks and seeing my heroes and when they were nice to me it was an unbelievable feeling," Franchitti recalled. "I've never forgotten that."
And for those who witnessed Franchitti's drive to victory, it won't soon be forgotten.
Franchitti was asked to compare Sunday's Indy victory with his rain-shortened win in 2007.
"It's like comparing my two dogs," Franchitti said. "They are both different but they are both pretty cool. We need a third dog now."
Rarely has such a dominant performance been as dramatic as Dario's Drive at Indy. In Hollywood terms, it was a blockbuster performance.