Dario Franchitti's Retirement Could Leave Massive Void In IndyCar Moving Forward
The announcement Thursday that four-time Izod IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti is retiring sent "shock waves through the motor sports world" and left the IndyCar community to ponder a "future without the best racer of the sport's current era and one of the greatest in its history," according to Jeff Olson of USA TODAY, who writes under the header, "Franchitti's Forced Retirement A Blow To IndyCar." Franchitti was "told to retire from racing by doctors concerned about the possibility of future injuries after those he suffered Oct. 6 in a last-lap crash" in the Grand Prix of Houston. Franchitti suffered a "broken back, broken right ankle and concussion." IndyCar team Owner Michael Andretti "balked at the idea that Franchitti's retirement was a blow that IndyCar racing, which is struggling with faltering attendance and low TV ratings, cannot endure." Andretti said, "You can't look at it that way. I wouldn't go there. The sport has many great drivers who have been here and are coming here." Olson writes time "will tell how the sport adjusts ... without its greatest ambassador on the track" (USA TODAY, 11/15). RACER.com's Marshall Pruett wrote Franchitti "leaves a massive void in the world of open-wheel racing, and as one of IndyCar's two biggest stars, the sport finds itself unprepared to deal with his absence." This is not the first time a "big name has retired from Indy car racing, but Franchitti's departure has highlighted how much work awaits the IndyCar Series to build and promote the next wave of icons" (RACER.com, 11/14). In a special to AUTOWEEK, Curt Cavin wrote Franchitti's retirement "creates voids all over the place." In a "macro sense, losing Franchitti is a big blow to IndyCar, which still hasn't recovered from Dan Wheldon's death or Danica Patrick's departure to NASCAR." The need for drivers Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal to "take the next step has never been greater" (AUTOWEEK.com, 11/14).
FILLING THE VOID: MOTORSPORT.com's Covy Moore wrote with an "already busy silly season slowly coming to a close, this job opening, if you will, puts a wrench into the 2014 picture." Team Owner Chip Ganassi can "fold the 83 team into the 10, and work" driver Charlie Kimball "into the picture." That move could be the "most logical for the owner, as being able to focus the effort and energy back into the 2 Target cars with a defending champion, and one of the most improved drivers of the past two seasons could almost guarantee race winning contention throughout next season." Then there is the "possibility of simply filling the vacated seat." Last month’s season finale saw Alex Tagliani drive Franchitti's car in the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway. Tagliani brings a "little bit of sponsorship money to the table, great driving talent and an amazing amount of experience in open wheel racing." In addition, Target, the "primary sponsor of the two iconic Ganassi cars has recently moved into Canada, just another point in favor of Tagliani’s cause" (MOTORSPORT.com, 11/14).