Franchitti Survives First Visit to Bristol
BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 17, 2008)-Dario Franchitti survived his first two races at Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend, beginning with Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) Saturday with a 22nd-place finish in the No. 40 Fastenal Dodge. Franchitti finished 36th in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race in the No. 40 The Hartford Dodge after qualifying was rained out and the team received limited practice time on the 0.533-mile track.
Franchitti started and finished Saturday's NNS race 22nd when the event was halted after 171 laps of the scheduled 300 lap distance due to rain. The Fastenal Dodge suffered minor front end damage, but overall the event proved to be a confidence builder for Franchitti as he scored his third Raybestos Rookie of the Race award in five NNS starts this season.
Sunday's NSCS race saw the No. 40 The Hartford Dodge start 26th as the field was set per the 2007 Owner Standings. With little track time Franchitti managed to hold his ground through the early goings of the 500-lap race, giving and taking spots on the tight bullring.
On lap 188, Franchitti was battling a tight race car but was still running lap times comparable to that of the lead car. However on lap 189 the No.40 got sandwiched between the No.49 and No. 26 cars, which resulted in left front damage. On lap 263 Franchitti felt the brake peddle go soft which contributed to a lap 274 spin.
From there the team continued to work on the left front and keep the car in the race, getting Franchitti more experience and more importantly, to the finish line in 36th.
Franchitti slipped one position in the NNS driver standings to 15th after Bristol, and the No. 40 NSCS team is 38th in NSCS owner points. For the third consecutive week, Franchitti leads both rookie of the year standings for both series.
Next up for Franchitti and the No.40 NSCS team is Martinsville Speedway after the series' first off weekend. This will be the first return visit to a track Franchitti has seen as he ran his first NASCAR sanctioned event there last fall in the Craftsman Truck Series.
CGRFS Driver Quoteboard:
NSCS: "What an exciting facility and terrific place to race. It was a tough day for our No. 40 The Hartford Dodge Charger. We lost our brakes before lap 100 and we pretty much just had to stay out of the way all day. We had a similar problem this morning, but I think the crew has found the problem ? but it's still pretty frustrating."