Morning-after memories just as sweet for Franchitti

A rain shower delayed it, but just as in his epic victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Memorial Day, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti would not be denied his moment at the yard of bricks on the traditional Monday morning-after photo shoot at the legendary race track. Franchitti's team pushed the bright red and white Target No. 10 car onto the track and a procession of sponsors, teammates and well-wishers lined up alongside the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion to salute his accomplishment on film and secure-digital card.

2010 Indianapolis 500 Champion Dario Franchitti, Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.

Franchitti admitted he's still in a state of awe at his luck in winning the world's most famous race not once, but twice, in his lifetime. At one point he considered his future to be in Europe racing stock cars. That is, until fate intervened and put him into the cockpit of one of an open-wheel machine in America. Franchitti took his cue from that chance intervention and made the success that followed by a combination of gentlemanly charm and an aggressively-paced preference for leading rather than pursuing.

"I've led a charmed life, indeed," said the Scot as he toured the 2.5 mile oval with journalists. "When I consider the great racing teams I have driven for and the luck I have had at Indianapolis it makes me smile at the life I am leading."

Actress Ashley Judd, Franchitti's wife, was on hand with the racers' twin Cocker Spaniels on Monday. The "family shots" for Mr. and Mrs. Franchitti included, of course, Shug and Buttermilk on the sidepods of the Dallara/Honda. "When people ask if this victory is as precious as the first (in 2007), I have to tell them that making a distinction between the two is as difficult for me as choosing which of these two dogs is my favorite. I just cannot make a choice between the two things."

2010 Indianapolis 500 Champion Dario Franchitti, Target Chip Ganassi Racing and wife Ashley Judd..
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.

There is no doubt that Franchitti was born to drive an open-wheel car. He admitted as much after he experienced a partial season behind the wheel of team owner Chip Ganassi's stock car in the NASCAR series during the 2008 season. "It was terrible in the timing of my move to NASCAR. I couldn't have picked a worse time (economically) than two years ago," said Franchitti. The team lost sponsorship at the halfway point of the season as the recession claimed victims in the racing business community.

Now the two-time Indy champion is back where he belongs, the winds of fortune are at his back and he seems to be on his way to a second Indy Racing League championship. The victory at Indy on Sunday boosted Franchitti into second in the IRL season-long championship standings. "I'm going to savor this victory for a couple of more days," he said, "then it will be time to prepare for the next race at Texas (Motor Speedway)."