IRL to lose Indy 500 Champ - Franchitti wants out UPDATE #6 No formal announcement yet (there will be), but Dario Franchitti made a guest appearance on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson Wednesday night, which he handled pretty well. When the guest appearance was over, Ferguson's departing remark to Dario was "....and I look forward to seeing you in NASCAR next year."
09/11/07 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' as our inside sources have learned that Franchitti is definitely going to NASCAR. We await the formal announcement.
09/10/07 The decision appears to have earned the blessing of Franchitti's wife, actress Ashley Judd. The couple lives outside of Nashville, Tennessee. "When the appropriate time comes, we'll make an announcement," Judd said after Saturday's qualifications. Yahoo Sports
09/08/07 Chip Ganassi Racing is expected to announce next week that Dario Franchitti will drive the No. 40 Energizer Dodge in 2008, sources told FOXSports.com.
Franchitti, 34, who won the 2007 Indianapolis 500 with Andretti-Green, currently leads CGR driver Scott Dixon by three points in the Indy Racing League Series with the season finale scheduled for this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.
Franchitti will participate in a training program similar to the one Juan Pablo Montoya (who beat Franchitti for the 1999 CART title) used to prepare for his rookie season. Franchitti will drive in a variety of series, including NASCAR's Busch Series in Ganassi's No. 42 Dodge. FOX Sports
09/07/07 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Reed Sorenson will likely be the only American driver competing in the Nextel Cup Series next season with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. David Stremme, who has driven the No. 40 Dodge for Ganassi, since the 2006 season, will not return to the team next season. Earlier this week, Ganassi officials announced sponsor Coors Light would not be returning to the team.
Likely set to replace Stremme is current Indy Racing League points leader Dario Franchitti, The Charlotte Observer and ThatsRacin.com have learned.
Ganassi already fields former Formula One star and Colombia native Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 42 Dodge. Reached by phone on Friday, Ganassi said he was working on several new options for the No. 40.
09/02/07 Rumor in the Detroit paddock is that Franchitti would soon test for the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Champ Car team. We hear rumors ever year that Dario may be moving to Champ Car and every year it is just a ploy to get more money for Franchitti out of the IRL side to keep him in the paddock.
08/18/07 Looks like another open wheel star is looking for an exit out of the IRL. The next prominent open-wheel driver to break into NASCAR could be Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti.
But don't expect to see Ashley Judd flitting along the frontstretch in sundresses just yet. Franchitti is friends with Nextel Cup team owner Richard Childress, who's had preliminary discussions with the 34-year-old Scotsman about possibly piloting a fourth car for Richard Childress Racing next season.
"If you watch him race, he races every lap just as hard as he can," Childress said Friday at Michigan International Speedway. "That's what impresses me about him. A lot of open-wheel guys have come here and tried it. I think if there's a guy who can do it, it's him. He's really level-headed, and he's really a hard racer. Whether he's ready this coming year or whenever he's ready, he'll be able to do it."
Franchitti, who won the rain-shortened Indianapolis 500 in May, lives in Nashville, Tenn., with Judd, his actress wife. Childress said Franchitti, who has 17 career Indy-car wins and is the current points leader in the Indy Racing League, is one of about three drivers he's looking at for next season, and the only one from outside of NASCAR.
"Dario is a friend," Childress said. "We just talk a whole lot. He calls me sometimes after my races, and I call him sometimes after his races. He's thought of this, but right now he's concentrating on the championship and concentrating on what he's doing there. But maybe at the end of the year, we'll sit down and talk."
Franchitti isn't the only open-wheel driver who could wind up in stock cars next year. The owner of the Red Bull energy drink empire has indicated that Scott Speed, recently fired from a Formula One outfit backed by the beverage company, may be bound for NASCAR.
"He would be an asset for us in NASCAR," Red Bull chairman Dietrich Mateschitz recently told a Swiss motorsports magazine. He did not clarify whether the 24-year-old California native would replace one of Red Bull's current Nextel Cup drivers or compete in an additional car. NASCAR.com
[Editor's Note: Hornish, now Dario. Scott Speed to NASCAR? People are looking to bail out of American open wheel racing at an alarming rate and it is beginning to appear that both sides of the battlefield (IRL vs. Champ Car) are willing to wait the other out until there is absolutely nothing left rather than merge.]