FRESH START FOR FRANCHITTI
INDYCAR: Fresh Start For Franchitti
Marshall Pruett | By March 22, 2013
Except for that day in May, the one where he won his third Indianapolis 500, Dario Franchitti’s 2012 season must have felt like the racing gods were having fun at his expense.
After winning four championships in five years, maybe they figured he’d had enough success and could use a humbling season--some frustration to stoke his competitive flames for 2013.
He might not have been a factor in last year’s championship, but the 39-year-old Scot has moved on from that disappointment and is ready to mount another title run starting this Sunday at St. Petersburg.
“This is obviously the first season in a while that we've come in not as the reigning champions,” Franchitti told SPEED.com. “If there was ever an issue with motivation I think that would fix it for us. But I think we, myself and the team, our motivation comes from trying to win the next race, comes from trying to hit St. Pete this weekend and win this one. That's where the motivation comes from. No matter what happened last week or last season, that motivation is still there. It's just the motivation to win, really.”
There were plenty who were quick to write Franchitti off after last season, and more who doubt he’ll be able to put Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and his teammate Scott Dixon behind him at the end of the 19-race championship.
You won’t get any bold predictions from the man himself, but it’s clear that Franchitti has taken a deep breath and will start the season with a fresh perspective on his chances.
“I'm always kind of cautious with my outlook,” he said. “I think when you get too excited about that sort of stuff and start saying you've got to do this and that, it comes falling down around you, really. I think obviously there's been a lot of hard work over the winter. The guys on the Target team have done their usual brilliant job to prepare.
“The Honda guys, it’s no secret we had some issues to fix there. They definitely improved drivability a lot. But the proof of what we've done is really going to be in St. Pete, we’re going to see how we stack up against everybody else. I'm cautiously optimistic, but we'll see what happens and see how we stack up and we'll go from there.”
Franchitti’s name and personal life became fodder for the tabloids during the off-season, but as one of the more private people in the paddock—someone who has always maintained a business-first approach to the sport--he doesn't anticipate any distractions will slow him down.
“I think in this job you have to compartmentalize,” he explained. “I think I’ve done a good job with that. And I think with everything that's happened in my life, both good and bad, which most of the stuff a lot of people don't know about, you have to. You have to get to the track and you have to forget about that. I won't have any problems this year.”