Franchitti Finishes 15th in First Visit to Dover
CONCORD, N.C. (June 2, 2008) – Dario Franchitti climbed back into the No. 40 Fastenal Dodge Saturday afternoon at Dover International Speedway to make his first NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) start at the track known as The Monster Mile and to make his first official competition run since late April. It turned out to be an impressive debut and return to stock car racing as he completed the effort with a 15th-place finish.
Franchitti’s last race before this past Saturday was at Talladega Superspeedway on April 26, when he was injured in an accident that fractured his left ankle. He has taken a break from racing since the incident to allow his ankle time to heal.
Led by crew chief Brad Parrott, Franchitti and the Fastenal Team edged their way forward through different portions of the race. Lining up 23rd, the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) driver and crew advanced from 23rd to 18th by lap 28 after making an impressive four-tire stop on lap 22. There is where Franchitti and team lingered a good portion of their run as they tried to find a better balance with the No. 40 Dodge’s handling. The blue and white car started on the tight side but as the race progressed the car seemed to swing loose.
The team fell one lap down in the process of trying to wrangle the car’s handling, but Franchitti and crew persevered to land the lucky dog spot that gave them permission from NASCAR to return to the lead lap on the 164th circuit of the race. Running 18th, the Fastenal team continued to move forward from there. By lap 173, the No. 40 was 16th. Then, Franchitti and team proceeded to pick up one more spot to finish 15th.
The No. 40 Fastenal Team is 19th in the overall NNS owner standings. With a current tally of 1,509 points, the team is 38 points outside the top 15, 228 out of 10th and 678 points away from first.
Franchitti also claimed Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors for the sixth time this season. He is leading the NNS rookie class by eight points over his Fastenal teammate Bryan Clauson (100-92). Clauson competed in Saturday’s race, as well, driving the No. 81 Dodge for Pat MacDonald. He encountered major handling issues throughout his run, going behind the wall early so the team could address multiple mechanical problems. He crossed the finish line 31st.
The NNS teams will return to Tennessee to run their second race at Nashville Superspeedway next Saturday night. The June 7 race is scheduled to go green at 7:30 p.m. ET with live coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: “Racing at Dover today was hard, it was really hard. The Fastenal Dodge was good, but just really tightened up in traffic. My guys did a great job. This was my first experience at Dover and it was quite something. We definitely got better at the end because we had clear air. That’s the first time I’ve ever had clear air at one of these tracks since I came to NASCAR [smiles] and I thought this is nice. I learned a lot today. I look forward to getting back in the Cup car next week at Pocono.”