FRANCHITTI TURNS FIRST LAPS IN 2012 CAR
By Marshall Pruett, SpeedTV.com
Four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti returned to the track for the first time since the Las Vegas season finale, turning laps in Honda's 2012 Dallara during a test at Florida's Sebring International Raceway.
After helping to farewell his dear friend Dan Wheldon during Sunday's public memorial in Indianapolis, Franchitti's made it clear that despite the need to test on behalf of Honda, he was still grieving.
“I’d rather be at home right now to be honest," he said. "We’re at the beginning of a long development process. Dan did a tremendous amount of hard work throughout the season to get the car to where it is and I understand the start point was not that good and we still have a lot of work to do. It will be a busy couple of months. Right now, I would rather have another couple of weeks. But our job is to do this so here I am.
"It’s tough for everybody on the team; it’s tough for everybody in the INDYCAR community right now. The timing is not good right now, but if we want to show up next year in the best position possible we have to be doing it. Scott did the test at Mid-Ohio and he and I will be doing the lion’s share of the testing over the winter and I definitely want to do my part.”
Franchitti looks on as the Ganassi team works on the new Dallara. (Target Chip Ganassi Racing)
While Franchitti's running was rather limited, he did comment on the new Dallara chassis that will bear Wheldon's name.
“I’m really appreciative of Dallara naming the car after Dan; he did put a lot of work into it and he did a really good job of not telling us anything," he explained. "He was very secretive about what went on so he didn’t give anyone an advantage and a few of us tried to tap him for information.”
Franchitti's fourth championship--solidified when the Las Vegas race was canceled--hasn't received much ink, and for the Scot, it's of little concern.
“I definitely appreciate the job that us – myself and the other members of the Target team – were able to do, but there’s nothing right now for me to celebrate and I really don’t think I will feel like celebrating," he said. "For me, the thing with Dan will always massively be a bigger deal than winning any championship.”