Franchitti: “We do need a good result” at Long Beach

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Dario Franchitti is far from ready to throw in the towel on his 2013 campaign despite opening with back-to-back DNFs, but he realizes that Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (4 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network/NBC Sports Live Extra) is a critical race for him and his Target Chip Ganassi Racing team.

“We do need a good result — there’s no doubt,” Franchitti told sports talk titan Jim Rome on his radio show this morning. “There’s two very different reasons for those finishes — the first race at St. Petersburg [Fla.], the car just wasn’t very good and I crashed the thing just trying too hard to make something happen. And then at Barber, we got up to P6 very quickly in the race, so were looking good for a podium there, and then we had a mechanical failure.

“…We need to make some moves here pretty quickly if we want to get a good result in the [IZOD IndyCar Series] championship. But we’ll just take it the same way we have when we’re in the points leading — one race at a time. Myself and the whole Target team are focused to get back up the [standings] table.”

Franchitti also touched on his 250th start (on which he jokingly said that “it means [he’s] getting old”), the upcoming Indianapolis 500, and the differences between being a driver pushing 40 years old and being a driver at 30.

“I think it comes down to desire,” the 39-year-old Scotsman told Rome. “There’s obviously the physical aspect, especially with the injuries I’ve had — that definitely plays a part as well. I have to work a lot harder with my fitness trainers to stay in the same shape I was ten years ago. Injuries are one part, but then, the desire is very, very important. You can’t fake that. As long as that is there, I think you’re in good shape.

“Yeah, as time goes on, your reactions start to slow down a little bit, and your eyesight and all those things — the things that happen to any athlete. Those things have not happened yet, and the desire is as strong as ever, so as long as that desire is there and you’re willing to take those risks necessary, then I think I’m in good shape because as you get more experience, it definitely plays into your strength as well.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.