Franchitti stalking Paul Tracy record
Penske Racing driver Dario Franchitti of Scotland adjusts his balaclava in the pit lane during practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis May 20, 2011. (REUTERS/Geoff Miller)
Dario Franchitti has a message for his old pal Paul Tracy: "Hey, P.T., I'm coming to get you."
Franchitti set his sights on Tracy - or more precisely Tracy's IndyCar win record - the moment he won the 29th race of his IndyCar career June 19, at the Milwaukee Mile.
That win put him just two behind Tracy and France's Sebastien Bourdais as the winningest active drivers in the IZOD IndyCar series.
And it tied Franchitti with one of his early heroes - Rick Mears - for eighth on the all-time IndyCar win list.
At 38, the native of Edinburgh, Scotland, knows the end of his career is in far sharper focus than the beginning but he still has the fire in his belly that got him to 29 wins.
If catching and passing Tracy can provide Franchitti with the extra incentive for more victories, that is just fine with him.
"If I can win some more races, great," he said. "I'd love to go out there and win more and - I'd love to beat P.T., actually."
It's not as if he bear any animosity toward Toronto's racing icon. In fact, Franchitti admits he quite likes "the Thrill from West Hill."
Franchitti and Tracy were even teammates for a while with Team Cool Green Racing in the old Champ Car World Series.
"We had such a good relationship. We go back such a long way," Franchitti said. "But beating him would still be fun."
Franchitti can't catch Tracy next week at the Honda Indy Toronto - a race that both have won at twice - but he has to be considered a favourite to notch win No. 30 at the Exhibition Place temporary street course.
After all he is coming to Toronto having won two of the past three IndyCar races (at Milwaukee and Texas) and he is leading the championship points parade by 20 over Penske Racing rival Will Power.
ANDRETTI NOT SO DOWN AND OUT
Michael Andretti doesn't take kindly to folks trying to bury his IndyCar racing team while he still has a breath in him.
So he was especially acid tongued after his son Marco won at Iowa on Saturday.
"It was a big win for us for sure," said Andretti, who has seven Honda Indy Toronto victories on his ledger. "I think a lot of people were really pounding on us and thought we were down and out, but I can tell you this team has got tons of fight in it and we are never out."
Andretti will attempt his first Toronto win as an owner July 10.
DEAN'S WEEKLY RANT
In spite of all the whining and yapping during and after NASCAR's two road course races this past weekend, one and all agreed that the racing was as good as it gets for the big sedans.
So good, in fact, that top drivers - lead by five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson - are now urging NASCAR bosses not only to add a third road course race to the Cup calendar (the two now on the schedule are Infineon and Watkins Glen), but put it smack dab in the middle of the Chase for the Championship next season.
Kevin Harvick backed Johnson and both suggested Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve would be a great venue.
But if NASCAR adds turning left and right to the 10-race Chase, Montreal would have to be ruled out because racing on Ile Notre Dame in October or November is a non-starter. Winter comes early in that part of the country, as it does at Road America in Wisconsin, the other suggested Cup road course site.
What would need to happen is to run Infineon's race in the fall in California and give its summer date to Montreal.
That would work.