Paulk: Franchitti retirement is IndyCar's loss
TribLIVE Sports Videos
At 40, Dario Franchitti began to realize the inevitable end of a celebrated career accentuated with three Indianapolis 500 victories at the storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Still, he envisioned becoming only the fourth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 four times. Even as he struggled during the IndyCar Series this year, the Scot was looking ahead to the Brickyard next year.
After all, Chip Ganassi Racing was switching from Honda to Chevrolet to bolster its chances. And Franchitti was anxious to prove that an uneven 2013 season was an aberration, not a sign that age had conquered him.
With this year's title out of reach, Franchitti gathered some momentum late while teammate Scott Dixon dueled with Helio Castroneves for the championship. In typical Franchitti style, he was relevant at the end in helping Dixon reel in Castroneves down the stretch by sharing invaluable race and track data.
Ultimately, it would be a bittersweet IndyCar season for Fox Chapel native Chip Ganassi.
Dixon delivered Ganassi his 10th championship. But a near-fatal crash in Houston in early October proved too much for Franchitti to overcome.
On Friday, Franchitti had to deal with the inevitable. He was forced to walk away from a sport he'd dominated since capturing the first of four driver's titles in 2007.
“Since my racing accident in Houston, I have been in the expert care of some of the leading doctors and nurses, all of whom have made my health, my safety and my recovery their top priority,” Franchitti said in a statement. “I am eternally grateful for the medical care I have received over the last several weeks.”
Franchitti suffered severe head and spinal injuries that made it far too risky for him to compete. Ganassi said during a teleconference on Friday that Franchitti is expected to make a full recovery.
“Racing has been my life for over 30 years, and it's really tough to think that the driving side is now over,” Franchitti said. “I was really looking forward to the 2014 season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing.”
As badly as Franchitti feels, there's a sobering reminder that he survived his violent crash while similar crashes claimed the lives of two of his best friends — two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon and Greg Moore.
Franchitti will probably become a network television analyst for IndyCar coverage. Or he'll stay with CGR to help develop Charlie Kimball, who along with Dixon and reigning Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan, will form one of the more dominant teams in 2014.
“He loves the sport,” Ganassi said. “He understands the sport. He will probably continue with the team in some capacity. I know he's very interested in the series, where it's going.
“I've always shied away from saying this, but because he won't be driving again, I guess, I think it's safe to say that his name is up there with all the greats, like Foyt, Andretti, Unser.”
The Brickyard suited Franchitti perfectly. It's why he was supremely confident about his prospects next year, considering CGR consistently builds some of the fastest cars in the series.
Franchitti's final IndyCar season wasn't among his best. He never seriously contended for the driver's title. At times, he was only third best behind Dixon and Kimball.
Still, Franchitti was easily the series' most respected and feared driver. Even at his worse, he was better than most.
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Former Steelers linebacker Harrison retires
- Penn State edges Central Florida on last-second field goal
- 90,000 people could hit the North Shore for games, ribs
- Outbound 376 reopened after man on exit sign caused closure
- Pitt presents Web resource to combat OD deaths
- Steelers claim former Cowboys cornerback Webb
- Veteran Keisel settles into role with Steelers
- Pirates notebook: Lambo recalled to bolster bench
- Franklin Regional security guard fighting to get job back
- Harrison shines again as Pirates clip Reds, 2-1
- Corbett team rails at pollster