So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night

Posted by Iannucci | 10/03/2007 | 13 comments »
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It’s official. Chip Ganassi has wasted no time in announcing today that Dario Franchitti will be driving for his N-word team next year. The plan is NAPCAR only – no IndyCars or any other series that doesn’t involve racing sedans. Most of all, no defense of Mr Judd’s 2007 Indy 500 victory.

Indy-car star Dario Franchitti has only one major regret now that he signed to compete in NASCAR for Chip Ganassi/Felix Sabates Racing: not defending his 2007 Indianapolis 500 and Indy Racing League titles. "That was the hardest part of this decision," Franchitti said today (Oct. 3), when his move from the IndyCar Series to NASCAR was confirmed. "It'll be tough not defending those championships. I'll have my hands full with this new challenge, so it'll be impossible to run the 500." (MORE from AutoWeek)
It’s hard to fault Franchitti for leaving AGR, where the long-term relationship quickly soured with Dario’s success in 2007. Perhaps Michael Andretti was bitter that after years of paying Dario well for mediocre results he cashes the chips all in for tin tops. Perhaps Dario was dismayed that despite his career year his team owner was more concerned about every other driver on the team. Perhaps both. Or neither. Whatever.

For the most part Franchitti has been a class act in open-wheel racing and he’ll certainly continue to be an asset wherever he races, but let’s not forget he made this decision willingly. Dario is in the enviable position of leveraging his recent successes, so he actually gets to decide to race however he chooses on this continent – and that choice does not involve activities in Speedway, Indiana in The Month of May. Judging from his actions it’s now “been there, done that” for Mr Judd.

You can’t fault the guy for taking the money and the challenge of stock car racing, but you can remember he did so by stomping on the hearts of fans of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Yeah, I’m just a little bitter, but not so much I can’t wish him good luck. Welcome to the N-word, Dario; small fish, meet big pond.

Oh, and tell Ashley to watch out for Greg Biffle’s woman.

13 comments

  1. bbovenguy // October 03, 2007 12:44 PM  

    I really don't know what Dario's going to get out of this move - other than a whole lot of money. He'll have to drive twice as many races per year (or more, if he runs in the Busch Series), in a series where he'll run mid-pack at best. He's not even a lock to get Rookie of the Year next year, let alone contend for a spot in The Chase.

    Does money really matter that much to him, given what he's already made in his career and what Ashley has made in hers? I just don't get it.

  2. Johnny // October 03, 2007 1:34 PM  

    It's a change, a new challenge, something different. For some racers it's not "have" to do twice as many races a year, it's "get" to do twice as many races a year. What does he have left to prove/gain in the IRL?

  3. Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. // October 03, 2007 1:38 PM  

    If not for Helio OWNING Dancing With the Stars I would probably be in a deep depression right now.

    I do feel kind of betrayed.

  4. Jeff Iannucci // October 03, 2007 1:38 PM  

    Oh come on - he has plenty left to prove in the IRL, like for starters showing 2007 wasn't a fluke. There's also the measure of how many Indy 500s he can win, especially since the one he did win was rain-shortened.

    Sure NAPCAR will provde a lot of challenges, but Motocross racing would be a challenge as well. So would chess. Or ballroom dancing. It's just that none of those provide the exposure and cash that his chosen path does.

  5. bbovenguy // October 03, 2007 1:43 PM  

    Sure NAPCAR will provde a lot of challenges, but Motocross racing would be a challenge as well. So would chess. Or ballroom dancing. It's just that none of those provide the exposure and cash that his chosen path does.

    Well, actually I think Helio is going to get more exposure for his dancing than Dario will get for his stock car racing. Not more cash, though.

  6. john clerk // October 03, 2007 2:15 PM  

    It's about loyalty, and a lot of people today just don't appreciate what that word means... AJ Foyt is often quoted as saying (approx) "If it wasn't for Indianapolis there wouldn't be an AJ Foyt." (You know how AJ talks about himself in the 3rd person sometimes...)

    AJ has been loyal to the Hulman family and Indy cars for 50 years. Was Penske loyal? He ran off to CART with the others even though Penske arguably made his fortune at Indianapolis. Was Penske loyal? Not in my eye, he wasn't. Arie Luyendyk was loyal. He knew that Indy was what made his career.

    So is Dario being loyal? I don't think so.

    That's the way I see it. And franky, I'm disappointed in Dario.

  7. erika // October 03, 2007 2:40 PM  

    What I find particularly odd is that Dario signed a multi-year contract and hasn't even driven a stock car yet. For a guy who has only wanted to sign one-year deals for the last several years, he sure has made quite a commitment to something that he's never even tried.

  8. Anonymous // October 03, 2007 3:58 PM  

    Hey Mr. Clerk. Dario doesn't owe the Indy 500 anything. 30 years ago it was huge for a racer to win Indy like Foyt did. It was the biggest race in the world. Today its not even the most watched race run that day. (Its actually 3rd behind the Nascar race and internationally the Monaco Grand Prix)

    I guarantee more people know Dario for being married to Ashley Judd than for winning the 500. Hell, more people probably know Helio for two weeks of dancing than for winning the 500 twice. Foyt, Rutherford, the Unsers and many more owe their careers to Indy. Dario does not.

  9. Johnny // October 03, 2007 4:15 PM  

    Jeff Said:

    Sure NAPCAR will provide a lot of challenges, but Motocross racing would be a challenge as well.

    Haha, remember who you're talking to here. I'm all for him or anybody else taking it to two wheels.

  10. pressdog // October 03, 2007 4:39 PM  

    Adios, Dario. It's been real. I'm looking forward to seeing someone new in one of the eight cars that have a chance to win.

  11. john clerk // October 03, 2007 5:14 PM  

    Mr. Anonymous:

    I respect your opinion, and I can see how Dario might not owe anything to Indy. Times do change, and maybe Indy's place in the world has too, but for me it'll always be #1. I agree with jennifer of dog.yarn.knit; I feel king of betrayed. Indy has been a tradition in my life for nearly 40 years. Old habits die hard.

  12. mmack // October 04, 2007 6:54 AM  

    Anonymous,

    2007 Television Ratings.

    Coca Cola 600, Fox TV, 5/27/2007:

    4.5

    Indianapolis 500, ABC TV, 5/27/2007:

    4.6

    And additionally:

    Brickyard 400, ESPN, 7/29/2007

    4.1

  13. mmack // October 04, 2007 7:14 AM  

    Jeff and Johnny,

    Have you seen this?

    "Ray Evernham will place Patrick Carpentier, the 1997 CART Rookie of the Year, in the No. 10 Valvoline Dodge in 2008."

    www.wtf.com?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

    Oh, them die-hard NA$CAR fans are gonna LOVE Patreeek, Day-reee-o, and Jack Vill-en-oooove on their turf, I guaran-damn-tee it!

    ;^)