His ride of choice will be the 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28, the most capable muscle car the Bowtie brand has ever made. Having outrun supercars around the Nürburgring, it's just the car to set the pace for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and with Franchitti behind the wheel, it firmly belongs at the front of the field.
It won't be the first time, certainly, that a Chevy is out front at the Indianapolis 500. The American automaker has a long and proud history at the Brickyard, dating back to when the Chevrolet brothers competed in the earliest runnings of the race, straight through to Tony Kanaan's win last year under Chevy power. In fact, this will be the eighth time a Camaro model will be called upon to serve as pace car for the race, and the 25th time for Chevrolet as a whole.
Scroll down to watch a video in which Franchitti explains what the opportunity to pace the legendary race means to him.
NEW YORK - Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will drive a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 to pace the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25.
It's the eighth time a Camaro has been the pace car, starting in 1967 – and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race.
Franchitti won the Indy 500 in 2007, 2010 and 2012, and he is only the third driver ever to win at least three consecutive IndyCar titles – among four championships overall. Franchitti's appearance in the Camaro Z/28 pace car signals a new start in his career as he embarks on a driver development role with Chip Ganassi Racing, which will use Chevrolet power in the 2014 IndyCar season.
"Dario is a true champion who has earned the respect of competitors and race fans alike," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. "It will be very special to have Dario lead the field to the green flag in the Camaro Z/28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway."
Said Franchitti: "It is a tremendous honor for me to be asked to drive the Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500. As a historian of motorsport and as a three-time winner of this great race, I will appreciate every minute of getting to pace the field in the new 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. Although I won't be competing in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, this will be as close as one person can get to the action. I can't wait until May in Indianapolis."
Chevrolet has a long, shared history with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500 and the Verizon IndyCar Series. Chevrolet was founded in 1911, the year of the inaugural 500-mile race, and the Chevrolet brothers – company co-founder Louis, Arthur and Gaston – all competed in early Indy 500 races. Arthur Chevrolet competed in the 1911 race and Gaston Chevrolet won it in 1920.
"We are excited to have Dario Franchitti lead this year's Indianapolis 500 starting field to the green flag," said J. Douglas Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Dario's appearance in the Camaro Z/28 Pace Car will be special for race fans and it underscores Chevrolet's important place in the past, present and future of the Indianapolis 500."
Chevrolet competed in Indy-style competition as an engine manufacturer in 1986-93 and 2002-05 with V-8 engines, and returned in 2012 with the Chevrolet IndyCar twin-turbo V-6 engine with direct injection. Tony Kanaan won the 2013 Indy 500 in his Chevrolet-powered race car, leading Chevrolet to seven of the top 10 finishes – including the top four. Chevrolet also earned the IndyCar manufacturer championship titles in 2012 and 2013.
About the Camaro Z/28
The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the most track-capable model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. It is solely focused on track capability, with unique exterior elements designed like a race car to produce downforce that presses the car against the track for greater grip – up to 1.08 g in cornering acceleration – and faster lap times.
The aerodynamically optimized design helped the Camaro Z/28 log a 7:37 lap on Germany's legendary Nürburgring road course – four seconds faster than the Camaro ZL1 – and faster than published times for the Porsche 911 Carrera S and the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640.
Additional contributors to the car's track performance include greater stopping power. The Z/28 features Brembo carbon ceramic brakes capable of 1.5 g in deceleration; consistent brake feel lap after lap; and reduced curb weight. The naturally aspirated Z/28 weighs 300 pounds less than the supercharged Camaro ZL1, with changes ranging from lightweight wheels to thinner rear-window glass. In fact, 100 percent of the un-sprung mass – suspension wheels, tires and brake system – differs from the Camaro SS, dramatically enhancing the balance and overall driving feel of the Z/28.
Power comes from the 7.0L LS7 engine, with dry-sump oiling, rated at an SAE-certified 505 horsepower (376 kW) and 481 lb-ft of torque (652 Nm). The engine is built by hand at the new Performance Build Center within GM's Bowling Green, Ky. assembly plant.
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4.9 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design, and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.