Saturday, August 18, 2012

Auto Club Speedway Hosted Q And A With Dario Franchitti Of Target Chip Ganassi Racing

Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti unveiled culinary creations that will be available for purchase at the Drivers Cuisine Cantina during the MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series  

Auto Club Speedway Hosted Q And A With Dario Franchitti Of Target Chip Ganassi Racing

We are joined by four-time IZOD IndyCar Series Champion Dario Franchitti, who drives for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. After winning the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship three years in a row, posting a season leading five pole positions in 12 races of a 15 race season (second is Will Power with three), winning the Indy500, and needing one more win to become the exclusive seventh all-time winningest driver in American open-wheel racing history here during the first season of the DW12 formula chassis. Let me intorduce myself, I'm Edmund Jenks (please call me Ed), and welcome to Motorsports Unplugged.

Hello, Ed.

There have been a few changes this season in American open-wheel racing, probably more changes than most seasons, what with the chassis, additional engine suppliers, a new director at Race Control and the rules that govern on-track relationships between drivers, technology nuances like push-to-pass and its many applications ... and finally, rules that govern the supply and performance of the new turbo-charged engines.

Question #1a - How has the change in attitude and management styles at Race Control - this includes Beaux Barfield and the entire staff - affected your approach and preparation to races this year? What one thing or area of race management stands out in your mind?

I don't think anything has really changed with the race management, it's just not any different, really. Ummm, definitely, the last group under Brian Barnhart did a good job and Beaux's continued that, Ummm so I haven't looked like a difference there ... as you have mentioned, Ed, everything is different though, with the new cars, the DW12, the engine suppliers, the engine war between Honda and Chevy going on its really been a whole fresh start for the IndyCar Series and, its not that there have not been teething problems but has brought some great racing.

Question #1b
- Yeah, it really been amazing the way, I guess, the cars have been able to mix it up over the old formula, although you did kinda' clip the wing in this last race (at Mid Ohio). In general the chassis seems very strong.

I hope that the chassis is strong, definately with the side-to-side contact and the design of the car now with the body work its eliminated some issues, Ummm trust me, the car is far from perfect, there's some issues with the suspension that when we put on the brakes that we definitely like to sort out but that cut in the wing at Mid Ohio was totally my fault and nothing to do with it (the suspension), the new design, just me makin' a mistake in judgement. 

So, otherwise though, I think its performed quite well, obviously love some more horsepower from the engines if the series would allow us run more with something ... but the Honda has done a great job at gettin' some good horsepower that was fixed this year.

Question #2 - In this late season section of races, we have seen the implementation of Push-to-Pass - we have also seen its implementation take on a few technology wrinkles like 100 seconds to be used whenever as opposed to 10 second spurts - and a delay added to the reaction time when the button is pushed. Most people I talk with are confused, do you have an understanding of this tool and what would be your recommendation on how it might be used ... if at all.

I think there's a bit of a plus on that - I think the push-to-pass is a good thing, but at the same point that if both cars are on the push-to-pass, or on the overtaking, if you want to call it that, then it negates the whole thing, so we have to do something to change that, but we have to be careful not to be too gimmicky I would say. With the five second delay that is attached to it? - that when you press it you have to wait five seconds to activate, you ... it will only activates when you go full throttle ... we get some teething problems with that. Ummm, we can't make it too complicated otherwise the fans will ahh won't understand, I would say, they won't understand the intricacies with it ... the casual fan, anyway, not the hardcore fan will.

They are tryin' stuff and I like the fact they are mixing up trying to improve the racein' for the fans, and umm it probably needs a little bit of work but we'll get there.

Question #3 - Your brother, Marino Franchitti, is a talented and winning driver in his own right. His latest project has him developing a new concept in a racing platform known as the DeltaWing. A little less than a week ago, word was released that the Panoz developed, Nissan-powered and supported DeltaWing joined the competition of constructors vying for the contract to supply the new 2014 Indy Lights car. What do you think of the DeltaWing? Being that it was originally developed and considered in the competition that was eventually was won by the new DW12 here in the IndyCar Series, would you have preferred driving the DeltaWing as opposed to the DW12?

It was an interesting position to be in because my boss, and Scott Dixon's boss, the boss of the Target team, Chip Ganassi ... he was the guy who put up the money to develop the DeltaWing - and ummm - when I first saw it, it was totally unbelievable, I thought this thing is not going to work. I'm really not sure about it. So when it became a project for Le Mans and Marino found out that it worked in the turns and he said it drove pretty much just like a normal car but the performance was far exceeded and umm if they really get a chance to work on that with differentials and stuff, the performance of that car with only 300 horsepower it would be really significant.

I know it was a shame that they got taken out at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it was a real shame the way it ended there.

As far as Indy Lights, I think it would be a very interesting thing to have that as the car. The future ... would that train the future IndyCar drivers in the best possible way? I don't know.

Question #4 - How has the issues surrounding engine hours, engine changes, and the 10-spot penalty in qualifications effected your season and will it be a factor in closing out your season?

Ahh we've had a couple of engine issues. You know, the guys at Honda continue to absolutely improve the envelope - to get the most power, the best fuel consumption, and the possible improvement on a couple of issues since Iowa (the rest of the answer became inaudible).

I think I'm on my 5th engine, I have one engine to go (more break up).

Question #5 - You are tied with Sebastien Bourdais (the only other active four-time IndyCar open wheel champion) and Paul Tracy for seventh all-time winning-est drivers - besides wanting to hold this seventh position exclusively, what other goals do you have in IndyCar and are there other racing goals outside of open wheel racing that you would like to pursue?

Obviously I have great pride in all of those wins, and the three Indianapolis 500s and the four championships, I'd like to have more wins, absolutely, especially at Indianapolis. But eventually I would love to race the 24 Hours of Le Mans I really think that is a race I'd like to do.

Dario, thank you for your reflections on this 2012 season and we wish you great success in your Honda-powered DW12 at the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, Grand Prix of Baltimore, and the season ending MAV TV 500 mile race at Auto Club Speedway there in Fontana  - thanks for joining us here at Motorsports Unplugged.

... notes from The EDJE

** Article first published as Auto Club Speedway Hosted Q And A With Dario Franchitti Of Target Chip Ganassi Racing on Technorati **

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