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IndyCar Season Preview: Dario Franchitti

Photo credit: Ned Leone

#10 Target Dallara-Honda, Chip Ganassi Racing

Born: May 19, 1973

Home: Edinburgh, Scotland

2011 HIGHLIGHTS: Franchitti won his third consecutive championship (his fourth in four tries since 2007, since he didn’t compete in 2008) on the strength of four victories, nine podiums, and a 4.8 average finish. He led laps in 11 of 17 races, including the most laps in six of those events.

2011 LOWLIGHTS: After winning the season opener at St. Petersburg, Franchitti failed to lead laps in the next three races and only finished 12th at Indianapolis. He also crashed out at Loudon after restarting next to Takuma Sato, and while he claimed Sato was at fault, consensus opinion stated otherwise. This allowed main title rival Will Power back into the championship race.

SEASON OUTLOOK: Franchitti is clearly the gold standard for IndyCar drivers after winning three of the last four titles, and driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, he has many advantages besides his driving talent. Ganassi has the lucrative Target sponsorship (which pits Franchitti in many alternate liveries over the course of the season), all of his key personnel returning, and the flagship Honda contract.

That combination means that Franchitti has both the skills and equipment to win on any course on the IndyCar schedule. Last year, he took two street course victories (St. Petersburg and Toronto), one flat oval win (Milwaukee), and one high-speed oval win (half of the Texas doubleheader). With only three finishes worse than fifth all of last season, there’s not much to question with this team.

– Chris Leone

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