Franchitti 32nd in Sprint Cup, 24th in Nationwide Series in First Stock Car Races at Fontana
FONTANA, Calif. (February 25, 2008)-Although Dario Franchitti returned to Fontana as the defending open wheel winner at the 2-mile speedway, the NASCAR rookie knew that his IndyCar experience was working against him in his transition to stock cars.
The driver of the No. 40 Target Dodge threw out everything he knew about the track and relearned the racing lines, finishing the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event (NSCS) 32nd in the No. 40 Target Dodge, and 24th in the Nationwide Series (NNS) in the No. 40 Fastenal Dodge.
The rain-delayed weekend resulted in two qualifying washouts and a partial double header for Franchitti, which included the finish of the NSCS event and a full NNS race [totaling 624 miles] – the most laps he’s ever driven in one day.
He led a lap in the NSCS race and earned five bonus points toward his current ranking of 35th (-199) in the NSCS driver standings. Franchitti is co-leader of the Raybestos Rookie of the Year award with 20 points.
Franchitti will pull double duty again next weekend in the Sprint Cup (UAW-Dodge 400) and Nationwide Series races (Sam’s Town 300) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The races will be broadcast on FOX (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET/PRN 4:30 p.m. ET) and ESPN2 (Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET/PRN 4:30 p.m.), respectively.
NSCS “I learned a lot. We went through a lot of different conditions between last night and today and I’m just getting used to driving the car and racing the cars as well. You know we were looking good for a top-30 there and we think we dropped a valve with five to go, but we ended up with a huge misfire with five laps to go and dropped three places. That was unfortunate. The car was pretty good. We were probably going to get a top-30 out of it. I learned a bunch about how slick the tracks are and how much the cars move around.”
NNS “We had a great car, and I felt more comfortable out there today than I've felt in any of my other Nationwide starts. The guys really set the car up to my liking. We caught a break under caution and thought we'd sneak out a top 5 or a top 10, but I felt a real bad vibration so we came in for four tires. Overall a good day and it felt great to drive a car that well prepared.”