Marino Franchitti - 24 Hours of Daytona Despite a disappointing qualifying position of 17th on the grid, brought about when Dario Franchitti had a plug lead failure right at the beginning of his qualifying run leaving the No. 2 ...
Marino Franchitti - 24 Hours of Daytona
Despite a disappointing qualifying position of 17th on the grid, brought about when Dario Franchitti had a plug lead failure right at the beginning of his qualifying run leaving the No. 2 CITGO Pontiac/Crawford firing on only 7 of it's 8 cylinders, the team were extremely upbeat for their race prospects in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
Despite wet and cold conditions in the days leading up to the race, race day itself was bright and sunny. After 3 unusual formation laps the race got underway, but Dario Franchitti was deemed to have jumped the start and was immediately awarded a drive-through penalty, so "catch-up" became the byword on the CITGO team. Double stints were initiated right from the start with Milka Duno following Dario Franchitti, who in turn was followed by Marino Franchitti and Dan Wheldon.
As daylight ran into dusk, the team edged it's way up through the field, and by a third distance into the race, lap 218, they were leading the race and continued to do so for 21 laps. It was a battle royale which raged between 8 cars that remained on the lead lap for most of the first half of the race. However by 6.30am following a couple of minor incidents which had lost the team 3 laps, they were lying 4th and Marino was waiting in the pit to begin his next double stint and on team orders to "push hard for the finish".
Marino's joy at seeing a full course yellow caution thrown over the field and believing his car would be in on the next lap was soon tinged with utter disappointment when he learned that the caution was for his own race car which had been hit by a Porsche whilst embattled in its fight with another and had not seen Milka Duno overtake them both. One of the Porsches promptly ran into the back of her whilst she tried to pass them. The resulting damage was so severe that the No. 2 CITGO car had to be retired from the race
"It was a huge disappointment at the time" said a reflective Marino, "but without doubt it was the most competitive race I've ever been involved in" he continued. "So many good, competitive drivers, all battling together, yet every lap was like a qualifying lap. It was really, really fun and I enjoyed every minute of it. The team were great and everyone got on so well together, it was just a pity we couldn't bring it home".
As to driving with his brother Marino said "We both thoroughly enjoyed it, and can't wait to do it again, but the next time we would both like to come home with a Daytona Rolex!"