Franchitti Looks to Pass Rutherford for 10th in Indy Wins
Nate Ryan, USA Today
Two-time defending Izod IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti spent much of the season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla., behind Johnny Rutherford, who drives the circuit's pace car. If Franchitti, who led 94 of 100 laps in St. Pete, can repeat his performance Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., he will move permanently ahead of the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner.
Franchitti and Rutherford are tied for 10th on the all-time Indy car win list, which combines the records of IndyCar, Champ Car, CART and USAC major series. The Scotsman says the best part of his 27th career win was its historical significance.
"It was a terrific honor; we're blessed to have so many stars from the past with us every weekend," says Franchitti, a racing history buff who collects memorabilia related to countryman Jim Clark. "Johnny Rutherford is a legend and friend of mine."
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver jokes, "I had better watch out for the pace car, because J.R. might be not wanting me to get 28." But there'll be plenty of other competition in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
Franchitti said his team needed to overhaul its setup after struggling through a preseason test last month at Barber, where he trailed Penske drivers Will Power, Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves as well as teammate Scott Dixon.