Dario Franchitti to Join Patron Highcroft Racing for Petit Le Mans DANBURY, Conn. (Sept. 17, 2008) -- Dario Franchitti, the 2007 Indy 500 and IndyCar Series champion, will join the multi race-winning Patron Highcroft Racing duo of Scott Sharp...
Dario Franchitti to Join Patron Highcroft Racing for Petit Le Mans
DANBURY, Conn. (Sept. 17, 2008) -- Dario Franchitti, the 2007 Indy 500 and IndyCar Series champion, will join the multi race-winning Patron Highcroft Racing duo of Scott Sharp and David Brabham for the next round of the American Le Mans Series, Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, on Saturday, October 4. The Scotland native will drive the No. 9 Patron Highcroft Acura ARX-01b prototype sports car for the first time in the prestigious 1,000-mile event and penultimate 2008 ALMS round.
Heading into the final chapter of the 2008 season, Sharp and Brabham lie second in the LMP2 title fight, just four points adrift of the leaders, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, and Patron Highcroft sits second in the Team championship to Penske Racing.
With over 180 CART and IndyCar race starts, 18 wins and 17 pole positions in the last decade to his credit, Franchitti, 35, will be a valuable addition to the Sharp-Brabham partnership that has delivered four LMP2 class victories including an outright win [Lime Rock] so far this season. The forging of such a strong trio of drivers will ensure that Patron Highcroft Racing has everything in place to succeed at the high point-scoring Road Atlanta round.
"We're really excited about the opportunity to have Dario in the Patron Highcroft Racing Acura for Petit Le Mans," said Patron Highcroft team principal Duncan Dayton. "Clearly he's quick and to have last year's IRL Champion and Indy 500 winner on our team to partner with Scott and David is fantastic. It's a true testament to how far we've come as a team to be able to attract the kind of world-class drivers that we have.
"I want to thank Chip [Ganassi] and his Target team for allowing their driver to join us for Petit. We are looking forward to continuing our battle with the No. 7 Penske Porsche for the LMP2 Championship at Road Atlanta. Dario further strengthens our line-up and will help us to achieve our goals."
Franchitti made his ALMS debut during the 2007 12 hours of Sebring, winning the LMP2 division with Tony Kanaan and Bryan Herta for Acura. Franchitti also won the overall ALMS pole last year at Long Beach. Confirmation that he will join the Patron Highcroft line-up for Petit Le Mans follows the announcement on September 2nd that Franchitti, who now lives in Nashville, TN, will return to the IndyCar Series with Target Chip Ganassi Racing for 2009.
"I'm really excited to be joining Patron Highcroft Racing for Petit Le Mans," said Franchitti. "I've been very impressed with David, Scott and the whole team this year so when Duncan approached me it was easy to say yes. To be back in the Acura and to race in such a competitive field, which includes my brother Marino and my new [Target Chip Ganassi] teammate Scott Dixon [who is racing at Petit Le Mans with de Ferran Motorsports] will be great!"
"It's great to have Dario joining our effort for Petite Le Mans," said Sharp, a former IndyCar Series champion. "He's been quick in just about everything he has driven. Additionally, he drove the Acura last year at Sebring and won, so he is familiar with the car. It should be great! I think we have quite a line-up for Patron Highcroft Racing."
"When I heard the news that Dario was joining us, I thought it was perfect timing for both the Patron Highcroft Racing team and for Dario," said Brabham, who also won at Le Mans this year. "As we are closing in on the championship the team needs the strongest driver pairing available and Dario brings this to the team. I also believe that Dario has a point to prove as he will want to end his season on a high and get well prepared for his return to the IRL. This year's Petit Le Mans will be the most competitive battle ever and the fans will be on the edge of their seats right up until the last lap. We can't wait."