1 January 1901
Franchitti devastated after St Pete failure.
There was little that Dario Franchitti or his #27 Andretti-Green Racing team could do to hide their devastation at failing to finish Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg.
It may be a well-worn racing catchphrase, but Franchitti and the #27 team were caught out by a '50 cent parts failure,' which ended a fine weekend for the Scottish driver.
Fastest in practice and qualifying, Franchitti's weekend started to go sour during race morning warm-up, when he slid into the tyre barriers on the St Petersburg harbour front in an effort to avoid the stationary vehicle of Kosuke Matsuura. Light damage was sustained to the front of the #27 Klein Tools/Jim Beam sponsored Dallara-Honda, requiring several new parts to be fitted just hours before the start of the race.
15 laps into the 100-lap race and with Franchitti leading serenely, one of those parts, a bearing and bolt on the top of one of Franchitti's right front suspension arms, broke.
Despite being such a small part, the breakage was enough to make the car undriveable and with no quick fix available Franchitti plummeted to 19th and last on the final results sheet.
"After about five or six laps, the steering started to get very heavy and I thought something was broken on the car,” said Franchitti, who was seen consoling one of his crew members on pit wall shortly after bringing the car back to his pit. “On the last lap, sure enough, as we went into turn one, something definitely did break. It was a piece that was replaced after the warm-up, as a precaution, after the incident with Kosuke (Matsuura). It was a brand new piece that failed.
“I don't know what more we could have done. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam car has been the car to beat and was easily the fastest car all weekend. This luck has got to end sometime."
Franchitti's race engineer Allen McDonald was equally gutted.
"The entire Klein Tools/Jim Beam team is really disappointed,” said McDonald. “It's such a shame because everyone has worked very, very hard to make this a great car and Dario was driving a fantastic race. I'm sure we would have had great pit stops like we did in Homestead and would have had a terrific result today."
After opening the 2006 season with a solid top five finish at Homestead, Franchitti's St Petersburg DNF drops the luckless driver to tenth in the championship, where he is now nearly 50 markers behind early season leader and eventual St Petersburg winner Helio Castroneves.
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