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."