Dario Franchitti had an unbelievable race on Sunday at the Indianapolis 500 as he took the checkered flag for the second time in his career. Franchitti, who is two years removed from a failed try in NASCAR, led one hundred fifty-five of the two-hundred laps and survived the last lap with a huge break from a crash that sent Mike Conway airborne into the wall, which left the final lap to be run under caution. This win was just his first this season, but was his fourth top-five finish in the last five races. This win was even sweeter win for his boss, Chip Ganassi, who became the first owner to win Indy and NASCAR’s Daytona 500 in the same year.
Franchitti is only the seventeenth driver to have won the Indy 500 multiple times, which puts him in the likes of Al Unser, A.J. Foyt and Arie Luyendyk among others. That sounds like quite an accomplishment to have your name in the same sentence with other Indy car legends. What would be even a bigger accomplishment for Franchitti is if he can put together back-to-back wins as they are set to race in Houston this week. History is on his side because the two previous Indy 500 winners, Brazilian Helio Castroneves last year and Scott Dixon of New Zealand in 2008, also won in Texas the same season. Dario Franchitti joined KILT in Houston to talk about how he compares winning a normal race to winning the Indianapolis 500, why the Indianapolis 500 winner gets to drink milk, and what form of racing he enjoys the most.
How he compares winning a normal race to winning the Indianapolis 500:
“You want to win every race, there is no doubt whether it is the Firestone 550 this weekend or the race in Houston all those years ago, but there is something obviously special about winning in Indianapolis and you can’t try any harder than you do a normal race but I guess the reward is just bigger. You know it just feels because it is the Indianapolis 500 except it is more special. You get to drink the milk and get to the circle. It means a lot to the Target team not just myself.”
Why the Indianapolis 500 winner gets to drink milk:
“Years ago, I am talking like fifty, sixty years ago, Louis Meyer, one of the winners drank milk in the big circle and since then it has been a tradition and the only guy not to do it I think was Emerson Fittipaldi, he drank orange juice because he had some deal with an orange juice farm… It is an important part of the tradition and I will tell you what I am glad to get that milk out. It is a great part of the whole deal.”
What it means to him to hear the whole crowd cheering for him after his name is announced before the race:
“It absolutely makes you feel good. That part is probably the last time you can enjoy anything before you get in the car there so you look around a little bit to see that and hear the reaction and go starting back down to business and try and keep your head in the game and get ready to do battle.”
What form of racing he enjoys the most:
“Indy car racing is my first love and that is why I came back to the Indy car series after the attempt in NASCAR. I just missed driving the car and actually the first time I drove an Indy car again was south of Houston there in MSR, I drove a test there and I had this smile on my face and I was like, ‘Man, why did I ever leave this?’ With the Izod Indy car series we now have this great schedule. We get to race on the street courses, road courses, and obviously the ovals we are doing this week in Texas.”