Injuries Force Franchitti to Retire

Dario Franchitti

Dario Franchitti, who announced his retirement Thursday, attempted NASCAR in 2007-08 before returning to the IndyCar Series. (Photo: Getty Images)

Four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti is retiring after being told by doctors that he must stop racing after suffering head and spinal injuries in a crash last month at Houston.

Franchitti’s car got airborne and entangled in the catchfence in the last-lap accident. The 40-year-old suffered two broken vertebrae, a fractured right ankle and a concussion in the crash.

He ends his career with 31 IndyCar wins, including three Indianapolis 500 victories, and 33 poles. He tried NASCAR in 2007 and ’08, running 18 Nationwide and 10 Sprint Cup races before returning to IndyCar. His best Cup finish was 22nd at Martinsville, and his best Nationwide finish was fifth at Watkins Glen International. Franchitti became the first professional driver to ever win the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Indianapolis 500, an open-wheel title and the Rolex 24 at Daytona consecutively.

“One month removed from the crash and based upon the expert advice of the doctors who have treated and assessed my head and spinal injuries post accident, it is their best medical opinion that I must stop racing,’’ Franchitti said. “They have made it very clear that the risks involved in further racing are too great and could be detrimental to my long term well-being.  

“Based on this medical advice, I have no choice but to stop. Racing has been my life for over 30 years, and it's really tough to think that the driving side is now over. I was really looking forward to the 2014 season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, with a goal of winning a fourth Indianapolis 500 and a fifth IndyCar Series championship.

“I'd like to thank all my fellow competitors, teammates, crew and sponsors for their incredible support over the course of this amazing ride. I'd also like to thank Hogan Racing, Team KOOL Green and Andretti Green Racing for the opportunities to compete on the racetrack, and especially Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who have become like a family to me since I joined their team back in 2008. I would be remiss if I didn't thank all my fans around the world. I can't thank you enough for standing by my side for all these years.’’

Team owner Chip Ganassi said: “Dario Franchitti has done so much for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, so it will be very disappointing to not see him in our cars next season. But simply put, Dario is a motorsports legend and will be sorely missed on the racetrack by everyone in the paddock and in the stands. His contributions to the sport of motor racing are too many to list, but I can tell you that they go way beyond what he has done on the track. What’s both impressive and unique about Dario is that he has always been a student of racing, someone who not only appreciates the actual science of the sport but also the rich heritage of those racers that have gone before him.”

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