Media Session With Target Chip Ganassi Racing Driver Dario Franchitti Q: What is it about the Indy cars that you do so well in that you can jump back in it and win the championship? I think that the Indy car I jumped in was a good one with...
Media Session With Target Chip Ganassi Racing Driver Dario Franchitti
Q: What is it about the Indy cars that you do so well in that you can jump back in it and win the championship?
I think that the Indy car I jumped in was a good one with Team Target puts really good cars out and that definitely made my job easier. I've been doing it for so long before that as opposed to when I went to stock cars was learning something completely new. This was going back to learning something that was instinct for me. It was all I'd ever really done so it was a lot easier and I love driving those cars. I love the horsepower, grip, and the tracks I get to drive on. So it was a good homecoming.
Q: Are the cars more driver-friendly?
No, I don't think they are. I'm more familiar with them. I often think if you take the best guy in Sprint Cup - which right now is obviously Jimmie - and you give him a couple of days to test and say 'Alright go do the IndyCar Series,' he would struggle for the first year and would figure it out I think. The difficulties are so different than driving a stock car that to do one or the other you have to change your whole way of thinking. Everything is different. If you come here to Texas in a stock car against an Indy car, it's completely different. It feels like a different track. Going to Richmond is the same kind of deal. One is not easier than the other. They are just very different.
Q: Do you like the changes to the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule and the addition of more road courses?
I think this is the first season where they've had more street and road (courses) than oval. I do, I like the schedule a lot. I'd like to see a couple more short ovals. We lost Milwaukee because of the promoter issues out there, which is a real shame because that's a great race for us. And Richmond, that had nothing to do with the IZOD IndyCar Series, but I guess they didn't like the show last year and that was a shame because that's a great track for us. It's a very well balanced schedule and I'm really liking it.
Q: How did the changes midway through the 2009 season with the series impact the rest of the season?
It certainly improved the racing a lot. It allowed us to race a lot closer to each other. Less of a wake from the car. It changed the competition up a little bit. They were good changes. It was a shame that we didn't get to have those changes at like a Richmond that would have really improved the show. I think we are looking at some good shows this year.
Q: Do you think with Danica competing in NASCAR that it will raise the profile of the IndyCar Series?
I think it will increase the profile a bit because she has such big coverage in her stock car races. Not only in the Nationwide Series but they talk about it during the broadcast on FOX, so I think it's going to bring fans to the IndyCar Series and once they see the racing and all that kind of stuff we'll have some new fans out of it. It's definitely a positive for the IndyCar Series.
Q: Did going to NASCAR make you a better driver?
There were a lot of guys in the IndyCar Series that were saying, 'Well you'd won a championship before you went to NASCAR.' I definitely learned stuff while driving in NASCAR that took me out of my comfort zone and that made me a better driver. Did it make me a quicker driver? I don't know. But it definitely allowed me to do some stuff that I haven't been able to do in the past and deal with different problems with the car. In a way it did make me a better driver.
Q: Is there anything with your NASCAR experience that you'd like to try over again?
It depends on the day really. If I look back it would have been great to have had a sponsor. It would have been great to be driving the Earnhardt- Ganassi cars now as opposed to the Earnhardt-Ganassi cars than in '08, which was really a low point for the team. The timing was unfortunate but at the same point I'm back doing exactly what I want to do. I would have liked to have been able to show what I can do in Sprint Cup. We did a bit in Nationwide, but it would have been nice to have been in a front running car. That would have been kind of cool. But it all worked out for the best and I'm back driving in the IZOD IndyCar Series doing what I love to do.
Q: What do you want from this new car in the IZOD IndyCar Series?
The reaction has definitely been mixed. It's got people talking. It's polarized people. It's a concept right now and I like the efficiency idea of it. I like the fact that it's starting to get peoples minds moving and how is it going to make the IndyCar Series relevant to the manufacturers again. In the years past the cars have gotten faster and faster and there comes a point where that's not sustainable any more. You can't be doing 250 mph around Indy as much as you would like to be able to do. By keeping the performance the same but making them more efficient is a good thing and that's one thing the delta wing brought to the table.
Q: Do you thinking the testing window offers plenty of time to prepare for the season?
For me, with the experience I have is not as bad as some of the rookies. I would have like to have seen a couple more test days but there is a reason they've done it. Obviously the cost reason, so I'm fine with it. Same for everybody and we'll deal with it.
Q: What's the sense of direction with the IndyCar Series with all the changes?
I don't know yet. I don't know how that's going to work out. Randy (Bernard) and I have exchanged emails and we've played phone tag because we've been trying to get together and have a chat. As I understand, I don't know much about him yet, but he's a promoter. That's a good thing. I think that is one thing the IndyCar Series would really benefit from. We've got IZOD as a title sponsor which is great. And the marketing department has done great. But you look at the job Mike Zizzo and Eddie Gossage do here at Texas, there's a reason they say he's the best promoter. He's a showman and that really does a great job for Texas. We need someone to do that for the IndyCar Series and I'm hopeful Randy is going to be the guy.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Tony George situation?
I don't understand the way everything worked. I know he is very hopefully that he is back with his team at Vision Racing because he was at the Barber (Motorsports Park) test and kind of seeing what was going on. We'll see what happens there.
Q: With the success at EGR is Chip putting more focus on the Sprint Cup side rather than the IndyCar Series cars?
Not at all. I'm happy for Chip that he's getting something back from all the hard work he's put in to his Sprint Cup team. That's good to see. His first love is Indy car racing. He's put the right people in place. I think it will be a benefit for the IndyCar team that the stock car team is doing so well.
Q: What do you feel are your chances to repeat as IndyCar Series champion?
I think with being with a great team that it gives us an advantage. It also gives Scott (Dixon) an advantage. We've both won championships before so we both know what it takes. We can all do the job and it's up to us to do it. I approach it as each week we are going to do our best and that's what we did last year. We'll see what happens.