Dario Franchitti

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Scott Speed to sub for Dario Franchitti on Mexico City Formula E racecast

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Scott Speed will replace Dario Franchitti on the Formula E world broadcast feed for the upcoming March 12 race at Mexico City.

Speed, who has a past podium finish in Formula E on his racing resume at Miami, will take Franchitti’s place as the latter will be at the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida that same weekend.

The Formula E race is the fifth of the season.

Speed now races for Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross in the Red Bull Global Rallycross, where he won the 2015 championship.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity and I think it will be a fun experience to see things from the other side of the camera,” Speed said in a series release. “I think Formula E is a great championship, which produces really exciting races, and I can’t wait to get involved in the build-up to the race in Mexico City!”

Franchitti is expected to be back behind the microphone for the Formula E race in Long Beach on April 2, the only race in the series on U.S. soil with Miami’s departure from the calendar.

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Franchitti in Player’s Tribune: “It’s nice I can chill out a bit more”

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Dario Franchitti remains one of IndyCar’s biggest names and greatest ambassadors, even though he isn’t behind the wheel anymore.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 and four-time Verizon IndyCar Series series champion wrote an article earlier this year describing his home life in Scotland now that he’s out of the cockpit.

Just this week, he’s put together a wonderful read for Derek Jeter’s “The Player’s Tribune” that focuses more on his specific new life in racing: fully outside the cockpit, now working in the mentoring and advising role to Chip Ganassi Racing’s young drivers of Sage Karam, Charlie Kimball and, to a lesser extent, Sebastian Saavedra.

Once Franchitti goes through the opening paragraphs describing what he remembers – or largely doesn’t, given he was concussed – from his 2013 career-ending accident at Houston, he then dovetails into his new role with Ganassi which keeps him actively involved at the tracks, without the worries of driving anymore.

“I was probably going to stop racing IndyCars in the next couple of years anyway because of my age — I was 40 at the time of the accident — so my career didn’t get cut too short. That’s the way I look at it,” Franchitti wrote.

“It was the perfect way for me to transition. For that first year out of the car, I got to just hang around the team and do whatever I could to help make the drivers better and the cars go faster.”

Franchitti was in New Orleans this year, in the rainy morass that defined a challenging first-year event which both the event promoters and the Verizon IndyCar Series worked to make the best of.

These two paragraphs, describing how he went through a morning at New Orleans and then realized he didn’t have to drive, best make the point about how much he’s enjoying his new life:

The question I get the most from either fans or the media is whether or not I miss racing, and it’s a bit complicated. Sometimes I’ll be at the track and I’ll really miss driving a car, but only occasionally. There have really only been a couple of times when I’ve been at the track and I really wished I was driving.

When I was racing, I loved what I did, but now that it’s over, it’s nice that I can chill out a bit more. There’s a level of intensity that goes along with being a driver and there’s an attitude of almost going to war when you’re doing it. Since I stopped, my mindset has changed and I don’t have that attitude or level of intensity anymore. I like this more relaxed state of mind I’m in.

It’s a great read from start-to-finish, and is linked here.

FE video: Michael Andretti, Dario Franchitti reflect on history of Long Beach (VIDEO)

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Both Michael Andretti and Dario Franchitti are past race winners on the historic streets of Long Beach.

In the above video, shot by the FIA Formula E Championship during its weekend at Long Beach earlier this month, the pair of drivers and former co-workers reflect on the history of the track as it’s 40 years on from the inaugural Formula 5000 race there in 1975, won by Brian Redman.

Andretti won at Long Beach in 1986 and again in 2002, with those two wins the book-ends of his 42-win career. Tuesday marked the 13-year anniversary, to the day, of his last win.

Franchitti added a win in 2009, his first win back in IndyCar after a one-year sojourn to NASCAR. It helped launch him to the first of three consecutive championships he’d win with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, his second, third and fourth of his illustrious career.

Andretti is team principal of the now three-car Andretti Autosport lineup (Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz) and Franchitti is serving as driver coach for Sage Karam at CGR. Karam won’t be racing in Long Beach this weekend but will be back at Barber next week.

Alain Prost is also featured in the above video, as are highlights of the Formula E race on the truncated Long Beach circuit, a race won by Nelson Piquet Jr. over one of Andretti’s Formula E drivers, Jean-Eric Vergne for his first FE podium.

In interview, Franchitti reflects on life without driving, a full year later

Dario Franchitti (right) has embarked on a new career path as a consultant for Target Chip Ganassi, with particular emphasis helping his hand-picked replacement and defending Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan. (Photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
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The 2014 season was an odd one for Dario Franchitti – he spent the year as an advisor for Chip Ganassi Racing’s Verizon IndyCar Series program, rather than behind the wheel of his usual No. 10 Target car, following his retirement from driving.

Franchitti’s life changed in several different ways last year. It marked his first time out of the cockpit after more than 20 years, having grown up racing in Europe before shifting to North America with Carl Hogan’s Mercedes-powered team in the 1997 CART season.

He has shifted to being a TV commentator for the FIA Formula E Championship.

He also moved home to Scotland and commuted to the U.S. for events, rather than living in either Tennessee or Indianapolis as he had previously.

On a more random note, he was named as the title track in a rap song last fall – “baked ziti” was used as a rhyme to counter his surname.

Franchitti reflected on his 2014 evolution in an interview with Herald Scotland, now back in his home country and away from driving.

“I didn’t realize how tightly wound I was until I retired because I would think about racing pretty close to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I really focused,” Franchitti admitted.

Out of the cockpit, he only now realized how intense his dedication and focus to driving was.

“Sometimes you sit back and think: ‘This is mad,'” he said. “But most of the time you are thinking: ‘Right, how are we going to get them to go faster?’ But with a bit of distance you realize what seemed normal before is not normal.”

Franchitti also spoke about his new home life, which he said includes FaceTiming his dogs back in North America. He’s keeping things fairly low key, getting out occasionally and adjusting back to the culture.

“I’ve got a bunch of friends I grew up with and we go sailing and when we go on the boat, we generally don’t eat well. I’m trying hard not to [eat badly]. I mean, who doesn’t love a fry-up on a Sunday? Sliced sausage, that’s my Achilles heel, and I am a Tunnock’s addict.”

The full interview is a good one, and is linked here. It’s a decently revealing interview with the driver who prefers to stay under the radar, yet whose accomplishments from 1997 through 2013 (four IndyCar championships, three Indianapolis 500 wins and 31 career wins) rank him as one of North American open-wheel racing’s all-time greats.

IndyCar: NTT Data moves Ganassi sponsorship to Tony Kanaan’s No. 10 car

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With Target choosing to move some of its racing sponsorship spending toward promoting its drivers in both the Verizon IndyCar Series and NASCAR, it turns out that only one IndyCar will have the familiar bulls-eye on the sidepod in 2015.

While Scott Dixon will retain the Target colors on his No. 9 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing has announced that his teammate, Tony Kanaan, will take over the NTT Data sponsorship for his No. 10 program. Last season, NTT was the main backer for Ryan Briscoe on Ganassi’s No. 8 machine (pictured, right).

“I can’t wait to begin working with everyone at NTT Data,” Kanaan, the former series champion and Indy 500 winner said in a release. “I know and have worked with them before so this will be great.

“As for the team, we really started to come together at the end of last season and although we ended on a high note with the win in Fontana, I think we had a legitimate chance to win a few more times.

“We have a year under our belt working together now and I expect to be contending more consistently in 2015.”

Today’s announcement is actually a revival of the original plan that NTT Data and Ganassi had in mind when Kanaan (along with engine manufacturer Chevy) were announced to be joining the team in 2014 during the 2013 doubleheader weekend at Houston.

Unfortunately, during that same event, Dario Franchitti suffered a devastating crash that caused injuries serious enough to force him to retire from the sport.

A short time later, Kanaan was chosen to take over Franchitti’s No. 10 Target car for 2014, while the NTT Data backing shifted to Briscoe and the No. 8. It must be noted, however, that the No. 10 machine has featured multiple sponsorships from Target’s vendors in addition to the department store giant itself.

In the 2014 season finale at Fontana, Kanaan broke through for his first victory with the team after a strong run in the second half of the year that featured additional podium finishes at Iowa, both Toronto races, and Milwaukee.

That leaves his boss confident in more success from the Brazilian fan favorite.

“We had planned to have NTT Data and TK partnered together last season but with Dario’s injury we had to move things around a little bit,” team owner Chip Ganassi said today in a statement. “NTT Data has been a great partner for the last couple of years and we are looking forward to much success and a long partnership with them.

“Also, I think TK had a far better year than the numbers would indicate and his win in Fontana gives him and the team great momentum as we head into 2015.”