Driving days over, Franchitti shifts gears

Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:31pm EST
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By Steve Keating

(Reuters) - Three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti tried to convince himself there was a way back from a career-ending head injury but all roads led to a dead end and his racing days are over, said the IndyCar champion on Thursday.

Speaking publicly for the first time since a horrific last lap crash at the Houston Grand Prix on October 6 left him with two spinal fractures, a concussion and a broken ankle, Franchitti said he tried to negotiate a deal with himself but discovered there was no deal to be made that would see him return to the cockpit of a race car.

"I spent two days thinking, "OK how can I get around this because I have done it before," said Franchitti, during a press briefing at Chip Ganassi Racing headquarters in Indianapolis. "There have been quite a few broken body parts over the years and I kept thinking, there's got to be a way, some kind of negotiation here and there wasn't."

The October crash ended one of IndyCar racing's great careers.

Along with his three Indy 500 titles, the 40-year-old native of Scotland claimed the IndyCar series driver's crown on four occasions, second only to A.J. Foyt. He won 31 Indy Car races from 265 career starts.

"I'm looking forward to the future and rather than being bummed about not getting to drive the number 10 Target car again and other things after that, I'm just very thankful for the career, for the racing I was able to do," said Franchitti, who hobbled into the press conference on crutches. "I've had fun doing this, I'm looking forward to the future now.

"There's been some crap days, there's been some devastating days but for the last 30 years I have had a really good time."

One of those devastating moments came in the October crash when Franchitti's car made contact with Japanese driver Takuma Sato's, went airborne and destroyed a portion of the catch fence before spinning several times while debris was sprayed toward the grandstands.   Continued...

Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Dario Franchitti of Britain dons his headgear ahead of the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana, May 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kirk Debrunner