Franchitti’s Drive for Five
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on December 21, 2011 | 8:14 A.M. EST
"The only thing I can look forward to is giving maximum effort to try to be successful again next year." (Photo: Getty Images)
Dario Franchitti won his fourth IZOD IndyCar Series championship in 2011 and believes he can still add to that total before his career ends.
Franchitti gave team owner Chip Ganassi another title when he prevailed in this year’s championship race. He credits the team’s strength as well as maintaining a positive attitude for his success.
“There's not been a point in any of these championships where I thought, 'Yeah, we've got this,' or on the other side where, 'We're out of this thing.' I've just kept an open mind and tried to each week, each moment in the car, just get the most you can, make that next pass, make that next move,” Franchitti explained.
“That's kind of the way I've dealt with things, trying to keep it balanced, not to get too crazy excited when we had a big points lead or get too desperate and upset when that lead eroded or we were behind. That seems to have worked very well.”
That approach is a by-product of the support and resources Franchitti has from the Ganassi organization, which he calls the best in the sport today.
“One of the reasons I can do that, I have so much faith in every single person that works for Team Target,” he said. “They do their job; I don't have to worry about it. They're the best in the business. …. I don't worry about it.”
Franchitti’s third straight title tied him with IndyCar star Ted Horn for second place on the most consecutive championships list. Franchitti can tie Sebastien Bourdais for the top spot should he score a fourth-in-a-row crown next season.
But despite that success, Franchitti doesn’t see himself as some sort of IndyCar legend.
“I don't see it that way,” he said. I’m very proud of the championships and the race wins. Luckily we're climbing that leaderboard on both those things. But, yeah, I haven't really sat back and thought about any of that yet.
“I think that's probably for retirement, which I think is going to be quite a ways off. Again, very proud of it, but I don't think in those terms, really.”
The 2011 crown came under tragic conditions with Franchitti clinching the title at the Las Vegas season finale in the aftermath of Dan Wheldon’s death.
Franchitti is still moved when thinking about the turn of events of that fateful afternoon and the untimely death of his friend and colleague.
“What happened with Dan was absolutely tragic,” Franchitti said. “We miss him. Really, I don't know what else to say apart from that.
“He was obviously a great friend and a terrific competitor. I think I speak for the whole racing community, especially the INDYCAR family, that we'll all really, really miss him.”
Franchitti returns with the Ganassi stable again in 2012 and preparations for the new season have already begun.
While he’ll be considered a favorite to prevail in the championship battle again, Franchitti takes nothing for granted and knows he’ll have a hard fight on his hands in his quest to put his name in the IndyCar record book with a fourth straight title.
“As far as looking forward, that's tough,” he said. “I don't think you can do that. The only thing I can look forward to is giving maximum effort to try to be successful again next year, to, again as we said earlier, get the best out of every week.
“Do I want to win another championship? Absolutely. I'm more interested in thinking about the execution of that, how we're going to make that happen right now, what it would mean. There are a lot of very good teams and drivers that are a little bit upset, shall we say, that we've been hogging the championship trophies, and they're going to come back stronger and harder next year.”