One of the famous faces at the track this weekend will be racer Dario Franchetti. Dario, the winningest British driver in U.S. open-wheel history, returns full-time to the IndyCar Series with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2009. (You may know him better as actress Ashley Judd’s spouse.)
After transitioning to the Ganassi team’s NASCAR program in 2008, the 2007 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Champion returns to open wheel racing alongside new teammate and reigning Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Champion, Scott Dixon.
Before trying his hand in the world of stock car racing, Franchitti posted four wins and four pole positions in 2007, en route to his first IndyCar Series championship. 2009 will be his first IndyCar season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Since the open-wheel merger and with the IndyCar Series schedule comprised of an equal blend of ovals, street & road courses, Franchitti is an odds-on-favorite to again contend for the series championship. For the first time since 2002, Dario will return to Southern California for the Grand Prix of Long Beach, where he was the runner-up in 1998 and 1999. The series will also travel to the familiar downtown streets of Toronto in July where Franchitti recorded a race win in 1999 during his racing days in CART.
Over the course of his open-wheel career, Franchitti has accumulated a wealth of experience and trophies in his time on the track. He has over 180 starts under his belt between the CART and IndyCar Series resulting in 20 wins, 19 poles, 101 top-10 finishes (1997-2009). He’s won races on road courses, street courses, short ovals and superspeedways and he is one of only 12 drivers to win a race in the IndyCar Series and CART.
With his immeasurable drive and a renewed excitement to be back in the unified IndyCar Series, no one doubts Franchitti can again vie for the Borg Warner Trophy and win another driver’s championship in 2009