IRL: Motegi: AGR, Franchitti preview

Franchitti looking forward to return to Japan. INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (April 8, 2003) -- The last time Dario Franchitti raced at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan was in 2002 when he took home third place honors in the CART race. Now as one of only a ...

Franchitti looking forward to return to Japan.

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (April 8, 2003) -- The last time Dario Franchitti raced at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan was in 2002 when he took home third place honors in the CART race. Now as one of only a handful of Indy Racing League IndyCar Series drivers with experience on the Honda-owned racetrack in the Far East, Franchitti hopes that his previous races at the facility will give him an edge over his competition when he attempts to drive the Andretti Green Racing #27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola entry to the win in this weekend's Japan Indy 300.

"I wouldn't say there is additional pressure on me at Motegi because it is Honda's home track," says Franchitti when questioned about the importance of the race win to Andretti Green Racing's technical partner, Honda. "I want to win every race that I enter. Would I like to win this one for Honda? Of course I would, Honda has been a great partner to Andretti Green Racing and to me over the past number of years and it would be great to be able to give them the win."

Franchitti, who was one of the first drivers to test the new Motegi facility in 1997, has earned two podium finishes at Twin Ring. Besides last year's third place finish, he also earned second place honors in 2000. His best start at the track was in 2001 when he lined up on the outside pole position. Currently in tenth place in the IndyCar Series standings, the 29-year old Scot is looking forward to getting back onto familiar ground.

"I think that the Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola team is excited to go back to Japan. We've always enjoyed the track, the Honda museum; it's all very exciting and interesting at Motegi. I've been going to the Twin Ring facility since the first test there in 1997 and the Japanese fans are fantastic. I think everyone who is attending the race for the first time will be really amazed by the whole thing."

Team manager Kyle Moyer agrees.

"We've been dealing with a lot of new issues this season," says Moyer. "New cars, new tracks, while we had raced at Homestead in past years, we hadn't competed there recently. Relatively speaking, Twin Ring Motegi is fresh in our minds. We were here almost exactly a year ago and we know what to expect in terms of weather variables. Our job this weekend will be to go out and use our knowledge to try and set up the best car we can for Dario early in the weekend. If we can put the right car underneath him fairly quickly, we know that he will be a serious contender for the win. We'd like to be able to give him that chance right now."

-AGR-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Dario Franchitti