SPEEDWAY – A slight glance could bring a double take. To be mathematically correct, it would actually be multiplied by five.
In the pits of Dario Franchitti there is still the sign with his traditional number ten-which he has worn with Target Chip Ganassi Racing since 2009.
But on the new Dallara chassis for the month of may is a 5 next to a target sign-number 50. It’s not a try at art but rather the number the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion will sport when he start’s the 96th running of the Greatest Spectacle Sunday.
“That’s was something Target asked,” said Franchitti of the team’s main sponsor, who is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary in 2012.
Making the change was an easy one for the team since Target has been a sponsor of Ganassi’s open wheel teams since the owner ventured into that part of the sport in the early 1990s. They’ve been on the cars of Ganassi Indy 500 winners in 2000, 2008, and Franchitti’s in 2010.
“They’ve been such a good sponsor. I’ve only been with the program for three years and they’ve been such a good sponsor for me, they’re so easy to work with,” said Franchitti of taking the number.
In many ways, it might even be for the best if Franchitti wants to become the seventh in Indy 500 history to win the big race three times. Of the previous six, none ever had the same number for all three victories and four of those won the race with a trio of different numbers.
Only Bobby Unsers (No. 3) and Helio Castroneves (No. 3) took two of their three victories with the same number.
The same can be said for the four time winners of the race and all but one of the nine two-time Indianapolis 500 champion. Only Bill Vukovich sported the same number for his multiple wins, having the No. 14 on the side of his machine in 1953 and 1954.
Hopes outside of a number might have increased on Friday, when Franchitti improved after a disappointing qualifying session to post the fastest speed of Carb Day. It figures to improve his chances on race day where he’ll start 15th and where he’ll proudly race bearing the number 50.
“When they ask little things like that, it’s a no-brainer,” said Franchitti of the number for Target. “It’s great for their 50th anniversary and they think the IndyCar program is such a integral part of Target that they want to celebrate it by putting on the car.
“I’m all for it.”