Franchitti Wins Oval Championship
September 20, 2010 | 3:45 P.M. EST
A motorsports history aficionado, Dario Franchitti has a special interest in fellow Scot Jim Clark.
While visiting the Formula One race in Monza, Italy, earlier this month, Franchitti purchased some unpublished photographs of 1965 Indianapolis 500 winner Clark to supplement his collection. This week, he’ll have a rare – and unquestionably special – occasion to drive the '500'-winning Lotus on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of a Road & Track magazine series focusing on the 100th anniversary of the race.
"I never thought I'd get to drive that car," two-time Indy 500 winner Franchitti said. "I got to stand next to it one day, and that was pretty intense, so being able to drive it will be very special, particularly at the Speedway."
He'll also hand over the keys to the orange 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS Pace Car replica to the winner of a sweepstakes. The Camaro Pace Car that Franchitti received as part of his prize package for winning in May last week arrived at his home in Scotland.
"It will go in with one of my old Champ Cars and my first-ever race car and a bunch of old stuff," he said. "I think it's a great tradition at Indy, the winner getting the Pace Car."
Soon to join the mementos will be the inaugural A.J. Foyt Oval Championship Trophy, which Franchitti secured with a runner-up finish in the Indy Japan 300 on Sept. 19 at Twin Ring Motegi. He posted two oval victories (Indy and Chicagoland Speedway) and three other top-five finishes to outpace Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon.
Foyt, the first four-time Indy 500 champion who leads the all-time Indy car racing list with 67 victories, did not make the trip to Japan with A.J. Foyt Racing and will present the gleaming trophy to Franchitti at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"The A.J. Foyt Trophy, I'm proud of that," said Franchitti, who will attempt to close out the IZOD IndyCar Series season with a victory on the 1.5-mile oval on Oct. 2. "I'm a bit surprised. When I first came over here, I really struggled on the ovals. So that's pretty cool. It's a great accomplishment to share with my team and especially named for A.J. and for Mario Andretti, two great champions to name trophies after."
Will Power, who leads Franchitti by 12 points for the series championship, earned the Mario Andretti Road Championship Trophy with five victories and four other top-five finishes.
Now the race to decide the series' overall champion comes down to the top oval and road/street course point-scorers.
"I'm privileged to win (the oval award), and now it's off to the big one," said Franchitti, who at Twin Ring Motegi was competing in his 100th IZOD IndyCar Series race.