SPEEDWAY – Fates can swirl around the oval just as they did on a warm and somewhat windy Monday morning.
For a third time in his career Dario Franchitti is taking the winner’s photos less that 24 hours after collecting a victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It comes during a month where he car wasn’t the strongest in qualifying but felt great on race weekend. It comes just a year after a good friend won the race than died before he could defend it.
There is also the fact that his teammate and another good friend completed the podium for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
“We were sitting at dinner last night and he said ‘You know not only were Dan’s friends, guys that were very close to him finished 1-2-3 but we were the three that helped carry his cofin with his brothers,” said Franchitti of Dan Wheldon, his former teammate who died in at a race in Las Vegas in October of 2011.
Its for these reasons that Franchitti’s third trip to victory lane and third two-hour photo session the day after took on a different feeling for the driver. Posing with his wife Ashley Judd along with the couple’s two puppies, it was a unique day of reflection for the driver who many felt wouldn’t be back in victory lane.
Unlike past years, Franchitti was not a threat on pole day and qualified in the middle of the field as the Honda engines fell behind Chevrolet when boost was added for qualifying.
But Franchitti and his teammate Scott Dixon found an extra wind on Carb Day, finishing 1-2 on the speed charts with times over 222 miles an hour. That translated to race day, where the pair traded the lead throughout the contest before Franchitti pulled ahead for good in the final ten.
Oddly enough, it was the sweltering 91 degree heat that gave the Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers the extra competitive kick they would need.
“The outright speed wasn’t there until Carb Day until we put the new spec engine and then it was like the car felt the same but it was going quicker,” said Franchitti of his No. 50 machine. “When it got really hot on race day we thought it would play into our strengths as a team and it did.”
Perhaps similar fates can work for Franchitti as he tries to dig out of an early hole in the overall standings in the Izod IndyCar Series. A poor start to the season means the three-time defending champion is still 64 points behind leader Will Power, who already has three victories in 2012.