Franchitti Finishes 11th in Fastenal Dodge at TMS
FT. WORTH, Texas (April 5, 2008) – Dario Franchitti and the No. 40 Fastenal Dodge team put forth a very strong effort Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway to finish 11th in the seventh NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race of the 2008 season. Although the driver and team contended with a loose-to-tight condition in the corners of the 1.5-mile speedway, they still posted multiple lap times that were as fast as the leaders and also led a lap to gain five bonus points in the NNS standings, where they advanced three positions—into 18th place.
It was an all around top-15 weekend for the No. 40 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) NNS team as they practiced inside the top 15 on Thursday, and then ran inside or just outside of the top 15 the entire second half of the 200-lap competition Saturday. The NNS teams lined up to take the initial green flag according to owner points after rain cancelled their qualifying session Thursday evening. That put the No. 40 Fastenal Dodge on the inside of row 11 in 21st place for the start of the race, and that is where the team continued to run throughout the first half of the day as they addressed a loose-through-the-middle, tight-off condition with the No. 40 Dodge.
In the process of tweaking their car’s handling and working to get a better grip on the track, Franchitti and team did go one lap down. It didn’t take them long to maneuver into the lucky dog position by lap 109 to get the free pass from NASCAR to return to the lead lap. From there, it was game on for the CGRFS driver and crew as they took a 17th-place running position and advanced inside the top 10 just as the field was embarking on the last 50 laps of the race.
Franchitti was steadfast with his track position until a late-race yellow waved on lap 190. Crew Chief Brad Parrott looked at the cars behind and ahead of Franchitti and decided to take a chance by getting four tires during the caution period. His hopes were the fresh tires would help his driver gain ground on the guys ahead and behind him which would help them lock in a top-10 day. As racing resumed on lap 194, the Fastenal Dodge was 10th but unfortunately the fresh tires tightened up the handling on the car. A few cars passed the CGRFS Dodge, but then Franchitti battled back to secure the 11th-place spot by the time he crossed the finish line to bring home his second-best finish in NNS competition (Note: His best finish is sixth which he earned earlier this year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the same car he raced Saturday at Texas).
The No. 40 CGRFS NNS team advanced three positions in the overall NNS owner standings, where the team is now listed 18th overall, just 93 points outside the top 10 and 280 out of first.
Next, the CGRFS Nationwide teams head to Phoenix International Raceway to drive under the lights in the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 on Friday, April 11. The NNS race is scheduled to start at 9:45 p.m. ET and will broadcast live on ESPN2 and MRN Radio.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: “That was a good run today to somewhat make up for the disappointment of yesterday, not qualifying [for the Sprint Cup race]. It’s good to go out there and run well in the Fastenal Dodge. It was one of those days the track changed a lot, the car changed a lot. We were keeping pace with it and we were just learning a lot. I learned the most, actually, following Tony Stewart. When Tony put me a lap down I was able to stick with him and I really learned a lot from him … Really, it was a great job by everybody on the Fastenal team.”
BRAD PARROTT, CREW CHIEF OF THE NO. 40 FASTENAL DODGE: “Excellent run for the Fastenal Dodge. Overall, the whole day went great. We got the lucky dog. When Kyle Busch is outrunning everybody by three-tenths, it’s hard to beat that guy. But Dario did a great job. From the time he got here this weekend he was on the money. We knew we had a good car. This is the same car that we’ve run four times this year and we’re going to keep running it until he doesn’t want to run it anymore. The next race for it will be Darlington.” YOU MADE A STOP FOR TIRES DURING THAT LAST CAUTION. DID THAT WORK TO YOUR ADVANTAGE? “I knew the guys behind us were going to come. There wasn’t but three guys behind us so I had to take the chance of coming and getting tires. We did lose one spot on the deal but those guys were better than us all day. We probably had a 15th-place car but if you can run all 200 laps and finish just a couple of seconds behind the winner of the race you’ve had a good day.”