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Title win 'sinking in' for Dario

Dario Franchitti won his fourth IZOD IndyCar Series Championship in 2011, but it was overshadowed by tragedy at Las Vegas. Only now is the series success sinking in, he says.
Going into the final round of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series championship, all the attention had been on the showdown between Dario Franchitti and Will Power for the title.

But after the tragic accident on lap 11 that claimed the life of Franchitti's close friend Dan Wheldon, the championship felt insignificant and left in the background of far more important concerns. Only now, over two months after the dreadful events in Las Vegas, is the championship achievement sinking in for Dario.

"It's not been something I thought about that much. It did sink in. It's bizarre," he said. "It's not been something I thought about that much ... I think I was driving somewhere when it hit me.

"Last year it was in the middle of the outback when I was on a motorbike," he said, but added that whereas 2010 "was kind of really joy", his feelings this year were very different because of losing Dan.

"This year wasn't that," he said. "Team Target, Chip, everybody, we're very proud of this championship. For me, I don't feel much like celebrating it because of [Dan], and I said that before - but it's something, again, I'm very proud of, of what the team and I were able to do."

Understandably still raw about the death of his friend, Dario felt that he had little to add to what had already been said about the tragic events that ended the season finale prematurely and which had rendered the championship battle all but irrelevant.

"What happened with Dan was absolutely tragic. We miss him. Really, I don't know what else to say apart from that," he said.

Franchitti added that he felt Wheldon's loss almost more now than at any time before, because his friend wasn't going around with him to all the end of year awards ceremonies as he should have been.

"[The] last couple weeks, because of being at all the awards things back here in the UK - if he was here, he would have been here with me, he would have been celebrating his Indy 500, and I would have been celebrating the championship," explained Dario. "We would have had a good time. He would have been getting the plaudits he richly deserved. Whether it was his family or his dad, Clive, getting these awards on his behalf, it was pretty tough.

"I suppose the one really bright thing that came out of it all was we did a go-kart race in Milton Keynes. An old teammate of mine organized this race. We had a great time and raised a bunch of money for Alzheimer's in Dan's memory. That was great. He would have loved that.

"He was obviously a great friend and a terrific competitor," he concluded. "I think I speak for the whole racing community, especially the IndyCar family, that we'll all really, really miss him."



Related Pictures

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Dario Franchitti on pit road at Kentucky Speedway [Photo credit: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media]
Will Power and Dario Franchitti pose together on the road course track at Motegi. [Photo credit: IndyCar Media]
Dario Franchitti watching intently from the pits during Friday practice on the streets of Baltimore - September 2011. [Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Either Dario Franchitti or Will Power will win the IZOD IndyCar Series World Championship Trophy (formerly known as the Astor Challenge Cup) in 2011. [Picture Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Britain`s two double Indy 500 champions Dario Franchitti and Dan Wheldon pose at the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed celebrating the centennial of the Indianapolis 500. [Picture credit: Steve Shunck for IndyCar Media]
All-star cast at Dan Wheldon memorial kart event
Target Chip Ganassi Racing Team Owner and Nine-Time INDYCAR Champion Chip Ganassi and Four-Time INDYCAR Champion Dario Franchitti with the IZOD IndyCar Series World Championship Trophy. [Photo credit: LAT Photography]
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a fourteenth-place finish Saturday, July 13, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Power lost the championship points lead to teammate Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who finished eighth. (Photo by Dan Streck/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Johnny Rutherford speaks with official pace car driver Dario Franchitti (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves in action (Photo by: Dan Boyd for IndyCar Media)
Sage Karam and Helio Castroneves (Photo by: Dan Boyd for IndyCar Media)
Jack Hawksworth at IMS (Photo by: Dan Boyd for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud on track with Carlos Huertas (Photo by: Dan Boyd for IndyCar Media)
Sebastian Saavedra`s rebuilt #17 KV AFS Racing car makes its return to the track in practice on Tuesday at Indianapolis. (Photo by: Dan Boyd for IndyCar Media)
Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan on Monday at practice for the Indianapolis 500. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Chevrolet Racing introduces the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Indianapolis 500 pace car Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will drive the Camaro Z/28 to pace the 98th running of the race on May 25. It’s the eighth time a Camaro has been the pace car, starting in 1967 – and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race. The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the most track-capable model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. (Photo Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet Racing introduces the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Indianapolis 500 pace car Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will drive the Camaro Z/28 to pace the 98th running of the race on May 25. It’s the eighth time a Camaro has been the pace car, starting in 1967 – and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race. The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the most track-capable model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. (Photo Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet Racing announces Tuesday, March 25, 2014 that three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will drive a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 to pace the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25. It’s the eighth time a Camaro has been the pace car, starting in 1967 – and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race. The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the most track-capable model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. (Photo Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing)

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