Recently retired open-wheel champion Dario Franchitti has earned a well-deserved honor – or rather, Honour.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion has been made an Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) “for services to motor racing” as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Franchitti, a native of Scotland, was forced to retire over this past off-season as a result of his injuries sustained last October in a crash at Houston.
But his status as one of the top competitors of his generation is safely secure with Indy 500 wins in 2007, 2010, and 2012; IndyCar crowns in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011; and 31 race wins (10 CART, 21 IRL/IndyCar), which puts him eighth alongside Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais on the all-time wins list in American open-wheel.
Since then, Franchitti has worked in an advisory role with Target Chip Ganassi Racing and recently drove the pace car at last month’s 98th Running of the ‘500.’
His brother/sports car racer Marino, sister Carla, and Holly Wheldon (the sister of late two-time Indy 500 champ Dan Wheldon) are among those that have congratulated Dario this afternoon on social media…
And of course, all of us at MotorSportsTalk give Mr. Franchitti our congratulations as well!
MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.
Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
- 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
- 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish
Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.
While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.
Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.
Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.
In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.