4 June 2011
Dario downcast after Indy flop
Dario Franchitti was struggling to find any silver lining in this year's 2011 Indy 500, after a strategy decision to conserve fuel seemed to have cost him a chance of a win.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti was still struggling to come to terms with how this year's race fell apart for him in the final stages.
"Today I stayed in the bus all day, ruminating over [the race]," said the 2007 and 2010 Indy 500 champion.
Having looked set to win a third time for much of the centennial race after appearing to overturn an early advantage held by his Ganassi team mate Scott Dixon, Franchitti was unable to make his final fuel load stretch and ended up falling well off the pace, finally slumping to a very disappointing 12th place by the chequered flag.
"This is such an important race, and if you look - I mean, we led over half the race, between Dix and I, and we tried splitting strategies and we both ended up not getting it," he told reporters at this week's Victory Banquet that he was attending with his wife, film star Ashley Judd.
"I thought our Target car was as good as anything out there today. The engineers made good calls fixing the balance of the car. The mechanics, the pit stops were fantastic. And we're leading the race, and we came in to do that stop. But I don't know. I don't understand right now. They're going to have to explain that one to me.
"You know, I had an interesting conversation with [AJ] Foyt before the race, we were just sitting in the green room, him and I in the corner, and he said, you know - he was telling me how he'd won it four times, but he probably should have won it more and some of the four he'd won, he shouldn't have won those ... When it's your day, it's your day," he continued. "And when it's not your day there's nothing you can do about it. And it was so - that struck me about lap 199."
Franchitti did at least get to join up with the winners' celebrations on Sunday night after Dan Wheldon's famous last-corner victory in the Bryan Herta Autosport underdog car.
"I had fun last night," he said, his spirits briefly lifting. "We went out and we celebrated with Dan and Bryan, and all my Scottish buddies, and Dix and those boys, so we had fun last night."
There's a strong bond between the "Four Musketeers" - Franchitti, Wheldon, Herta and Tony Kanaan - forged back in 2005 when they were the driver line-up for the the then-dominant Andretti-Green Racing team. "We had a lot of fun together on and off the track," agreed Bryan Herta of those days. "We had an opportunity, the four of us got together for dinner about a week ago. Literally we laughed till our sides hurt just reminiscing about those times. So there was a bond that formed between the four of us during those years that will never change."
Being able to share in his friends' success on Sunday night was a help, but it only goes so far in getting Dario through the disappointment of the 2011 Indy 500.
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