Dario Franchitti was honoured with a $1million cheque for securing his first open-wheel title in the United States, and admitted that it was not yet certain that he will be headed for NASCAR in 2008.
Although the rumour mill insists that he is poised to be unveiled as David Stremme's replacement in the #40 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, Franchitti insists that he has not made his decision about moving away from open-wheel racing.
"There's a lot of factors and, at the appropriate time, I'll think about it," he told nascar.com, "Right now, I don't see it being the appropriate time. We just won the championship and we're in sort of the celebration stage of that. I'm not going to really think about my future until the end of this week, or the start of next week, at the earliest."
Stremme has been told that he has no future at Ganassi next season, and Franchitti admits that there is some desire to try NASCAR, fuelling the speculation.
"NASCAR would be something different, something I haven't done," he confirmed, "Apart from Formula One, it's probably one of the few things I haven't driven. So that would be one of the reasons to look at that, But I suppose one of the options is to do nothing next year, to say 'thanks very much, I've had a good time. I'm going to go hang out somewhere quiet, on a beach', but I really don't know yet. I've been quite disciplined in not allowing myself to [make a decision], so we'll see."
Franchitti and Indy Pro Series champion Alex Lloyd were among those recognised for their 2007 achievements during the Indy Racing League Championship Celebration at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations division of the Indy Racing League, presented the 34-year old Scot with a $1 million championship bonus cheque and a mini IndyCar Series championship trophy. A mini IndyCar Series championship trophy also was awarded to Andretti Green Racing owners Michael Andretti, Kim Green and Kevin Savoree.
"The championship means a lot." said Franchitti, who also earned an IndyCar Series-record $4,017,583 this season, "It's been kind of elusive. I've been over here ten years and I've won a lot of races, but to finally win it means a lot. I didn't realise what it did mean until I crossed the finish line [at Chicagoland on Sunday]. I'm just so happy. To do that and the 500 in one year, I'm really proud."
In addition to the championship bonus, Franchitti accepted the $10,000 Bosch Platinum Award and received a $100,000 diamond-encrusted champion's timepiece from Ritmo Mundo, while chief mechanic Jeff Grahn accepted the Hitachi Power Tools IndyCar Series Chief Mechanic of the Year Award and its $25,000 prize.
Ryan Hunter-Reay collected the $50,000 Bombardier LearJet Rookie of the Year Award, while Tomas Scheckter of Vision Racing accepted the Xtrac Championship Award and its $5,000 prize.
In the IPS section, Lloyd accepted the Firestone Firehawk Cup, along with a $5,000 award from Lincoln Electric, the $5,000 prize as the winner of the Oxley Financial Group Lap Leader Award and a $5,000 'Securing Tomorrow Award' from Gregory & Appel Insurance for winning the most races of any driver.
"It's really been such a great year for me and for the team," said Lloyd, who won a series-record eight races, "I'm just so appreciative of Sam Schmidt and the entire team for the great job they did for me the whole year. They really made my job easy."