They say familiarity breeds contempt, but don't tell that to Dario Franchitti, as the 35-year old Scot is happy to be starting third in the Indianapolis 500.

While great attention is heaped on the polewinner for the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing', Franchitti was quite content to find himself in the same position he started from in 2007, when he won 500 for Andretti Green Racing.

"It's very satisfying to be on the front row here," he said, having secured a spot alongside Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe on Saturday's Pole Day, "It is a great feeling, especially on Race Day, to get in the car and have a clear view in front of you. This will be the third time I started outside Row 1, and it's worked out pretty well every time."

Franchitti started third two years ago - when Castroneves also had the pole - and led 34 laps en route to becoming the first Scot to win the Indianapolis 500 since his hero Jim Clark in 1965. Franchitti went on to win the IndyCar Series championship that same year, before deciding to pursue a career in NASCAR, foregoing the opportunity to defend his Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series titles in 2008.

"I made the decision in August or September of '07 not to come back because of all the reasons I've talked about before about looking for new challenges," Franchitti said, "Didn't make it any easier, and I tried to kid myself I wasn't missing it. I'm one of those people I close down outside distractions. I was just focused on trying to be successful in NASCAR. Then I broke my ankle and kind of came up for air."

Franchitti followed the Month of May activities closely in 2008, talking often with former AGR team-mate, and close friend, Tony Kanaan, and it slowly dawned on him what he was missing.

"It's probably more an emotional thing than anything as to not being here - Race Day, especially, was tough," Franchitti said, "That got my thought process started thinking about coming back to the IndyCar Series."

Several months later, when sponsorship fell apart on his NASCAR ride, Target Chip Ganassi Racing team owner Chip Ganassi asked Franchitti to consider a return to the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

"I'd like to have been successful," Franchitti said of his NASCAR jaunt, "but, for all the reasons we know, losing the sponsorship and things, it didn't work out. So I'm pretty lucky that I went to go over there, had the chance to try that as sort of an experiment, and then get to come back here and jump straight into the best seat in the paddock.

"It wasn't lost on me that I was able to do that. As I said before, it feels really good to be back driving the IndyCar, it's such a thrill of driving these things. And that was the one thing when I jumped back in the car for the first time, the smile it put on my face, the fun and the thrill I get from driving an IndyCar. I still want to drive them, and that year away really made me appreciate how much I enjoyed doing it, how I enjoyed all the disciplines of it, whether street courses, road courses - and especially here at Indianapolis."

It's been a case of 'so far, so good' for Franchitti, who has already earned a victory at Long Beach in 2009 and ranks third in points heading into the Indianapolis 500.

"It feels good to be back," he confirmed, "You've got to prove yourself again. And you have a good month, only half the battle of the Indy 500 is showing up on Race Day with a fast car. That puts you in a position to win the race, then you've got to do everything right over that whole day to get it done - and you've got to have some luck, as well."


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