FRANCHITTI SET TO DRIVE INTO UNKNOWN
Franchitti set to drive into unknown at Brickyard
May 24, 2012
Indianapolis - The question seemed simple enough.
Dario Franchitti is the most recent winner competing in the 96th Indianapolis 500. He has logged a thousand miles of practice after running four races already this season in Dallara's new DW12 car and Honda's new turbocharged V6 engine.
So Franchitti was way, way more qualified than any of us roaming the room with tape recorders to try to figure out what to anticipate Sunday.
So . . . what will spectators see then that they wouldn't have thought about before? What can Franchitti imagine that the rest of us might consider a surprise had we sought his insight?
The usually confident Scotsman looked baffled.
"For me right now, there's so many unknowns that I wouldn't know where to go," said Franchitti, a two-time 500 winner and four-time IndyCar champion.
"How is this car going to race?
"Are you going to be side-by-side through a corner? We're not, traditionally, here after Lap 5. It's a single-file racetrack; are you going to be able to run side-by side?
"That big draft, that big hole in the air this new car produces, are guys just going to be able to hang on to the lead bunch all day?
"How much (is the handling of) the cars going to go off? How much sliding around are they going to do in that 95-degree temperature? Who's going to nail the setup and the down-force level?
"Right now I'm going in there ready to react to whatever."
Admittedly, Franchitti has spent more time shaking his head than he could have imagined while preparing for this race.
Chip Ganassi Racing, typically one of the best on the grounds, hasn't been as fast as the Penske and Andretti teams, and among Ganassi's four drivers, Franchitti and Scott Dixon - its two champions and Indy winners - were outqualified by Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball.
That's not to say anyone is counting Franchitti out.
It's just difficult to say what to expect of him if he really has no clue.