Franchitti returns to IndyCar for 2009

Less than a year after quitting the series to switch to Nascar, Bathgate’s Dario Franchitti has confirmed he will return to the IRL IndyCar Championship next season driving for the Chip Ganassi team. Ironically he will partner Kiwi Scott Dixon who he pipped for the 2007 title on the last corner of the final race.

The 35-year-old Scot, whose Nascar career was cut short when his Ganassi Nationwide Series team ran out of sponsorship three months ago, has agreed to return to open-wheel racing with the team.

“Part of the reason I signed with Ganassi last year was because of how many options Chip has at his disposal for a driver,” Franchitti, who also won the Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Green Racing last season, explained. 

“You can do almost any form of racing that you want. With unification of the Indy Racing League and IndyCar, allied to the new schedule having more road and street courses, it made me think about this more and more.

“I have really enjoyed this last season in stock cars and have not completely closed that chapter of my professional career, but I’m a racer and the opportunity that arose was just something I could not pass up.

“I am really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of one of those Target cars and be a team-mate to Scott. Target is a tremendous sponsor and they and Chip always give you everything you need to win.”

Team owner Chip Ganassi meanwhile, one of motorsport’s larger than life figures, said he has always been a big fan of Franchitti and his appreciation of the Scot had grown while having him onboard his Nascar squad this year.

“It is going to be very exciting to have Dario in one of our IndyCars next year,” he admitted. “I have always admired his competitive spirit when he raced against us and have really grown to see more of what he is about this season while he raced in Nascar.

“When there was a possibility of an opening on our IndyCar team, the only person I thought about was Dario. This is going to be a great move for Dario and for our team.”

Franchitti will replace his former AGR team-mate, Englishman Dan Wheldon, at Ganassi. The Scot has yet to confirm his race plans for the remainder of 2008, though a  return to IndyCars at the non-points event at Surfers Paradise in Australia in October has not been ruled out yet.


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