IndyCar: Franchitti’s title hopes stalled by team politics

By Andy Darley

CalendarWednesday, August 29th, 2007

 
 

Scottish IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti must be watching Lewis Hamilton’s pitlane troubles and be thinking ‘I wish I had your problems, mate’.

For one thing, he’s been fined an undisclosed amount for not paying attention at the Kentucky Speedway, causing a crash with Panther Racing’s Kosuke Matsuura and a dramatic flip.

For another, however bad the tension between Hamilton and his McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso, at least the young Brit can rely on team boss Ron Dennis to act as a neutral referee.

Franchitti, on the other hand, lost the Motorola Indy 300 race and the championship lead after a contact with team mate Marco Andretti that damaged his car and forced Andretti to retire from the race. Both drivers believe they could and should have won the race.

The team boss who has to sort out this mess? Marco Andretti’s father, the veteran racer Michael Andretti.

Speaking post-race, Franchitti said: “It was a pretty perfect day right up until Marco and I got together up in Turn 1. We’d come close to getting together earlier on in the pits. He was out there on cold tyres going a good bit slower.

“Tony [Kanaan] and I had a similar situation earlier in the race. Tony had given me the space. Hell, even [Scott] Dixon did it on cold tyres. But Marco was out there trying to win the race, and we were out there trying to win a championship.

“Michael is in an awkward position, I guess, being a team owner and a father. Sometimes he doesn’t have as clear a view as he should have as a team owner maybe.

“Like I say, I’m trying my hardest to win a championship right now for Andretti Green Racing. We’ll leave it at that.”

This is clearly not a good situation for a team that’s in with a shot of winning this year’s championship after an incredible effort to raise their game. Now Franchitti is sitting at number two in the standings, four points behind Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon.

Marco Andretti, by contrast, is some 235 points down on the leader. And blame for the accident, which occurred at the end of the pit lane, has generally not been laid at Franchitti’s door.

Rather, the more charitable among the commentators seem to agree that the team should have at least been a little bit more proactive about avoiding problems at a known pit lane trouble spot.

As Ron Dennis could no doubt explain, it takes a hell of a lot of discipline to build a championship-winning team…

Who was to blame? You decide:

Franchetti talks about the crash:

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