Interview with Dario Franchitti

 by Missy Behrendt
March 2, 2001

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Dario Franchitti

AutoRacing1.com caught up with Dario Franchitti at a recent test at Texas Motor Speedway last week.  Missy Behrendt filed this report.

Q. Dario, what do you think of the track here at Texas Motor Speedway? 

A. The track's unusual. It's not what I'm used to. It's completely different --The configuration with these steep banks. We're all still learning it I'd say. It's pretty bumpy. 

Q. Did you notice a big bump coming out of Turn 4? 

A. Yes, there are bumps coming out of 4 and along the straight. 

Q. How much of what you have learned today will be useful when you come back to race in late April when the temperatures will probably be quite a bit warmer? 

A. I think we'll be ok. I don't think the temperature will make that big of a difference and be a problem. The problem that we're going to have is as soon as you get in traffic, you know, the cars are going to be drawn to each other and it's going to be a much different ballgame then because these cars with this Handford wing react a lot differently in the slipstream, the draft. So we'll see. 

Q. With so few cars here today you haven't had a chance to run with anybody else? 

A. No, we haven't been able to do that. We can learn certain things here today and then we're going to have to come back for the race. That Friday is going to be a very busy test day for everybody else as well, getting used to driving on these high banks. 

Q. So the biggest aspect of the track that takes getting used to is the banking? 

A. Yes, the banking is the first thing that I noticed. You know we run on a lot of ovals, mile and a half tracks. Nazareth has some kinks like this but the kinks aren't the problem. But this banking is 24 degrees and it is totally different than any other place we race. At low speed you just feel that it's very banked. The faster you go the more the car gets sucked into the track and you really feel the G-forces coming down on top of your head and down your spine. That's quite something. Just sucking the car to the track. It's definitely a lot different than any oval we run on. 

Q. You just got back from testing at Sebring also. Was the test a successful one? 

A. Yes, we tested one day at Sebring. The track wasn't at it's best but we learned a lot of stuff I think and that was good. We've been busy in February. We ran 2 days at the Homestead oval, 2 days at the Homestead road course, a day at Sebring, a day here, and then two in Phoenix next week. 

Q. With CART limiting the amount of testing that you will be able to do this year, is it going to be a big advantage to be part of a three car team and share information? 

A. God, I hope so. You know you have to look for every advantage you can right now and I think that might be one. 

Q. Are you excited to race in Europe again with the additions of England and Germany to the schedule? 

A. I think it will be great racing in front of the home crowd in England. And Germany……I spent a lot of time racing in Germany with Mercedes so they're both like home races for me. 

Q. What are your thoughts about the Rio race being canceled? 

A. I'm disappointed. It's a big race. But you know if Rio doesn't want to help out, CART can only do so much to make the race happen and if they're not helping out there's nothing we can do. 

Q. There are many new venues that are being considered to be added to the CART schedule in the future. Any preferences of where you'd like to race? 

A. Yeah, there are a lot. I know CART is looking everywhere. 

Q. There's talk of a possible CART race in New York City. What would you think of that? 

A. Oh, that'd be neat. 

Q. Would Las Vegas be a fun stop? 

A. Oh yeah. Any place as long as the track is up to spec. This place (TMS) needs a few changes before we come back to race. 

Q. On a personal note, do you see yourself staying in CART, or are you still considering going to F1? 

A. I don't know about the future but I'm having fun so far this year. I see CART with the new CEO Joe Heitzler; I see things are improving in the series a lot. I think this is a great series, it just needs to be run right and I think that's what's happening now. I don't know, as I said, I'm having a lot of fun and after the disasters of last year I'm really enjoying myself. I'm enjoying testing. I am enjoying working with my new engineer and my team. We'll see what happens in the future but right now I am only concentrating on getting ready as I can for the first race in Mexico, and the rest of this season. 

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