• Jul 2nd 2008 at 4:41PM
  • 14
Okay, we'll admit it. Most of us here at Autoblog aren't big NASCAR fans. But we have been intrigued by the recent migration of championship-winning open-wheel racers to the stock car series. Former Indy 500 and Monaco GP winner Juan-Pablo Montoya seems to be making a go of it, while fellow Indy and F1 champ Jacques Villeneuve has all but given up hope of ever making it with the good ol' boys. But how about Dario Franchitti? After winning both the Indy 500 and the IRL title, Franchitti made the move to NASCAR. Unfortunately, however, his skills in open cockpits have yet to translate to closed ones in the same way as they have for his Colombian team-mate, and his sponsorship cash in the top-level Sprint Cup has run dry after Coors Light dropped the No. 40 Dodge.

Team principal Chip Ganassi has had no choice but to shut down Franchitti's ride as a result. Ganassi emphasized that Dario is encouraged to continue in the second-tier Nationwide Series, and after Franchitti finds his speed again we hope to see him rubbin' bumpers and taking names back in the Sprint Cup soon. In the meantime he'll just have to take solace in the arms of his wife Ashley Judd... poor guy.

[Source: AutoWeek, Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      OK, I'm a European living north of The Border watching F1, Indy and Nascar.

      Now, I know what Yellow or Caution is but can somebody explain to me why there are 5-6 laps long cautions even when the car that spins doesn't hit anybody and anything and rejoins the race? What has become of Nascar and Indy is essentially pieces of 10 laps sprint races with cruising in between. In other words - boring.

      Sorry to all Nascar and Indy fans, but the very specific nature of oval racing means those these drivers can't really cut it out amongst the big boys in F1, GP2, Le Mans or DTM. They're just not good enough to handle the cars in Normal racing circuits. Montoya won his first not-oval race and Villeneuve qualified 6th in Taladega without pretty much any experience.

      Both Villeneuve and Montoya developed their skills in Europe and Japane before going to Indy.

      Bourdais came from 2nd grade formula 3000 to ChampCars and was in the class of his own. And I'm sure that if you'd put Seb Loeb or DTM champs into a Nascar car, they'd be on different planet. That's fact of life.

      Top drivers are growing up in Europe where they can develop their skills.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Sweet... Now all we got to do is kick out all the dumb F1 & IRL. guys. oh and Toyota. then The Nascar Sprint Cup is Americana again... Chevy Dodge. And even stupid Ford... Now Thats Americana !!!
        • 7 Years Ago
        ...Ahh..yes, you love America so well that you misspelled several words while going through your Americana spiel. Thank you for representing us so well.

        end sarcasm.
        • 7 Years Ago
        [[sigh]] rednecks...
        • 7 Years Ago
        Of the current 4 NASCAR Branded cars (Impala, Charger, Fusion, Camry), isn't the Toyota the one that is actually produced the most in the US of A? Doesn't that make them more American?

        Anyway, back on topic. Ganassi has been going down hill since 2002 when Marlin almost won the title. Stremme, who has shown he has a lot of talent, managed nothing in the same car as Dario in 2007. Throwing Dario into the deep end, Indy Car Champion or not, into a team that isn't that good, was never going to end well. The #42 team is the only Ganassi team that has been any good for a few years, and it is really begining to show now.

        Felix and Chip already said why the team is closing, and it is all about funding and Coors. Coors was commited for 2008 and in October turned around and said goodbye, leaving no time to secure a full time primary sponsor. After costing the team $11m it was time to call it quits.

        Dario has the option of doing the rest of the Nationwide Series (which is what is expected will happen), going into a 3rd Indy Car for Ganassi (a fun, if unlikely possibility) or slotting into the Ganassi Grand Am (or future ALMS...) team.

        As for the salary issue. I see no gain for Dario moving from a top Indy Car team, earning one of the highest wages on the grid, winning the Indy 500 and Indy Car title, to a low-midfield NASCAR Team. Dario expressed interest in moving to the #42 car for the 2007 season, but when JPM became a free agent Chip asked Dario to wait 1 more season (perhaps the best thing that ever happened to Dario, given his 2007 IRL season!). The large accidents he had surely would have aided the decision.

        One more thing however, a reply to Kitko. I do not mean to sound arrogant here, but someone with little knowledge on the subject should not post like you do. For example, "Villeneuve qualified 6th in Taladega without pretty much any experience.". That is the best example you can come up with? Taladega [sic] is a flat out oval. Villeneuve, in the Toyota, was always going to qualify well. All of the Toyotas did. Taladega qualifying is put your foot down and see what happens. You also forgot to mention that Villeneuve opted to drop to the back on the formation lap, and finished LAST in the race.

        And of course let us not forget the great Jim Clark once tried NASCAR and said it was one of the most difficult forms of motorsport he had ever tried, nevermind one of the most physics.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Blame Coors for walking away from their sponsorship committment, but blame Ganassi for not providing them with a competitive car. Blame Ganassi for the constant instability in his teams, reaching a point where Montoya felt so frustrated he's talking about walking away. Blame Franchitti for thinking Sprint Cup was not going to be a huge challenge.

      Franchitti will stay in Nationwide this year, because he's got no options open. I doubt a Cup team will pick him up, and his best bet is to hope he can find an IRL team next season (good luck).
      • 7 Years Ago
      You guys have NO clue. Scott Speed in a bad F1 Situation is winning in ARCA already. You also forget that some of these "loser" openwheeler's are now your heroes.

      Robby Gordon, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart are all former openwheelers.

      I doubt Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton or Matt Kenseth will be threatening Kimi or Lewis Hamilton for jobs anytime soon. And by the way, thier salaries SMOKE anything tintop drivers make anyway.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Most nascar guys would not stand a chance in F1. As far as Dario is concerned, it not like his went a premier team.

      As far as pay is concerned, on average, F1 drivers make loads more than your typical nascar grunt.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Shriners, meanwhile, would do quite well in F1, as they are used to driving in formation in parades. However, they would have to get used to the lack of passing, not to mention having to lobby the FIA to approve the fez as adequate head gear.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Funny how fans of respective motor sports series like to dump on another series.
      Some basic facts:
      The top Nascar drivers are world class talents ands could undoubtedly have (if they had so desired) transferred into road racing series and OW series, even F1 and been top drivers.
      The current OW drivers in Nascar are super driving talents, either gaining the experieince they need, or in cars which are not the best in the field. Time will tell.
      The real problem is the creeping issue of lost Sponsors in Nascar. That's why the Chipster needs to run 2 Cup cars not three. He needs to use his money and development resources making 2 cars winners, rather than having three sub cars. Nothing to do with the respective driver talent.
      Enjoy this weekends full slate of racing guys. Starting with GrandAm on Thursday night!
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's really the height of hubris for someone to think that they can compete in NASCAR just because they had success in go-carts, Indy Car racing, or F1. Those series outcomes are primarily "technology" determined, with wide variations in the vehicles and results normally following the advantage a particular car has in the formula.

      Witness the headline fonts normally reserved for declarations of war or presidential assassinations when an F1 car actually (gasp) passes another during a race ON THE TRACK!!! My goodness, such excitement .

      As a NASCAR talent feeder series, F1 and Indy aren't well suited because the drivers are VERY well paid in comparison to the audience share, and the light weight cars with tremendous downforce and tread width don't really showcase a driver's ability to perform in the rigid NASCAR "driver oriented" formula.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I know open wheel fans would love to make fun of nascar tech and what not but no matter what you think this ain't easy. Juan Montoya has been the best and he is in the 20-25 range. Franchitti would be better of going back to Indy instead of running some nationwide race because those cars now a lot different from cup cars.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Agreed, the toughest thing a NASCAR champ would face going from NASCAR to F1 would be the pay cut.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Damn, that means I'll never get to hear Darryl Waltrip say "and Dario Fettuccine takes the checkered"
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