Dario Franchitti begins writing the next chapter of his career at Indianapolis (video)

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TV interviews can oftentimes be a dime-a-dozen, but we really were captivated by Indianapolis station WRTV’s interview of four-time IndyCar champ and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti on Thursday.

Having suffered near-fatal injuries in a crash last October at Houston that prompted his immediate retirement from open-wheel racing, Franchitti will be missing from the starting grid at Indy for only the second time in more than a decade.

But WRTV does an excellent job of telling not only the back story of Franchitti’s career, as well as the next chapter as a coach and consultant to Target Chip Ganassi Racing, particularly for his hand-picked replacement to succeed him in the No. 10 car, defending Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan.

One of the best lines in the interview is when Franchitti tries to put into context the fact that he’s at Indianapolis for the first time since 2002 (with the exception of his brief foray into NASCAR in 2008) as an observer rather than a driver.

“Fun? Yes. Bizarre? In some ways, yes. Bittersweet? Absolutely,” said Franchitti, who turns 41 on May 19.

Another intriguing part of the interview was the viciousness of his crash at Houston. The WRTV report included both professional and amateur footage of the horrendous wreck that left Franchitti with two broken vertebrae, a broken right ankle and the third major concussion of his career.

As a result, his doctors told him almost immediately that while he’d walk again, he’d never race again, the toughest pill for Franchitti to swallow as he recuperated in the hospital.

Even more so, what is particularly frightening about the Houston crash is the amnesia that Franchitti suffered.

“I didn’t know that because I don’t remember anything,” Franchitti told WRTV’s Dave Furst. “I lost five weeks, I think two weeks before and three weeks after, nothing. It’s not going to come back. I went to my buddy Albert’s wedding in Portland (a few weeks before Houston) and that’s the last thing I remember.”

Click here to check out the Franchitti video. Great job and great storytelling by Furst and the WRTV crew.

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.