News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 7, 2012

Franchitti mired in post-Indy 500 slump

Tom Reck
Tribune-Star Correspondent

TORONTO — Dario Franchitti hopes to get back on track in IndyCar Series action Sunday in Canada.

The three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and four-time IndyCar Series champ sits in eighth place in the points going into the Honda Indy Toronto. ABC-TV will carry the action, starting at 12:30 p.m.

Since winning the 500, Franchitti has been hampered by mechanical problems and other issues.

“We are still mathematically in it [for the title], which is somewhat surprising with some of the problems we have had. You go out each week and try to win the race. We are still in the fight and we’ll be fighting all the way to the finish,” the Target Team Ganassi driver said on a teleconference.

Toronto may be the place for him to rebound since he has won two of the past three races on the street circuit, including last year.

“I have always loved racing in Toronto … starting in 1997, getting my first pole position. I’ve always enjoyed the track and the challenge of the bumpy surface and the multiple changes,” he said.

Push-to-pass will be allowed again this weekend.

“It’s going to be very interesting. I know the numbers will boost, but how much will it translate on the track? That, combined with the fact that you are now allowed to defend, is going to make for some pretty interesting racing. I think it will definitely liven things up a bit,” said the native of Scotland.

Franchitti has been nominated for an ESPY award and will assume seventh place on the wins list by himself with 32 when he earns his next victory. He currently is tied with Paul Tracy and Sebastian Bourdais at 31.

Will Power still is the leader in the IndyCar Series points, but his lead is down to three over Ryan Hunter-Reay and 15 over Scott Dixon.

Hunter-Reay has won the last two races at Milwaukee and Iowa. Justin Wilson won in Texas.

James Hinchcliffe, a native of Canada, attended his first race at Toronto at the age of 18 months. He won a Firestone Indy Lights race in the city in 2009 and has been in the top 10 in seven of the nine IndyCar Series events this year.

Last week was the first weekend off for series drivers since the Indy 500.

“I was ready for a break,” Franchitti admitted. “It was nice to relax.”

• Kinser Memorial slated — One of the races on the weekend schedule is the Sheldon Kinser Memorial for sprint cars Friday at Bloomington Speedway.

This race is in memory of the former Bloomington driver who was a big winner in USAC races and drove in the Indianapolis 500.

The winner will receive $4,000 and $350 goes to each starter.

In other racing Saturday, modifieds, super stocks and bombers are on the program at Lincoln Park Speedway, while features for super stocks, pure stocks and bombers are on the card at Paragon Speedway.

Regular points racing is slated at Crossroads Dragway.