Dario Franchitti has announced his immediate retirement from racing on medical advice following his Houston IndyCar crash.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and four-time IndyCar champion sustained spinal injuries, concussion, and fractures to his ankle in a crash when his Ganassi car flew into the catch fencing in the accident last month.
"Since my racing accident in Houston, I have been in the expert care of some of the leading doctors and nurses, all of whom have made my health, my safety and my recovery their top priority," said the 40-year-old in a statement.
"I am eternally grateful for the medical care I have received over the last several weeks. I'd also like to thank my family and friends for their unbelievable support.
"One month removed from the crash and based upon the expert advice of the doctors who have treated and assessed my head and spinal injuries post accident, it is their best medical opinion that I must stop racing.
"They have made it very clear that the risks involved in further racing are too great and could be detrimental to my long term well-being. Based on this medical advice, I have no choice but to stop.
"Racing has been my life for over 30 years and it's really tough to think that the driving side is now over. I was really looking forward to the 2014 season with Chip Ganassi Racing, with a goal of winning a fourth Indianapolis 500 and a fifth IndyCar Series championship."
OFF-TRACK ROLE MOOTED
Franchitti said that he was exploring ways to remain involved with the sport in the future.
"Hopefully in time, I'll be able to continue in some off-track capacity with the IndyCar Series," he said. "I love open-wheel racing and I want to see it succeed. I'll be working with [team owner] Chip [Ganassi] to see how I can stay involved with the team. As my buddy Greg Moore would say, 'See you up front.'"
Ganassi paid tribute to the Scot, who ends his career with 31 victories, putting him equal eighth on the all-time list, and 33 poles.
"Dario Franchitti has done so much for Chip Ganassi Racing so it will be very disappointing to not see him in our cars next season," Ganassi said.
"But simply put, Dario is a motorsports legend and will be sorely missed on the race track by everyone in the paddock and in the stands.
"His contributions to the sport of motor racing are too many to list, but I can tell you that they go way beyond what he has done on the track.
"What's both impressive and unique about Dario is that he has always been a student of racing, someone who not only appreciates the actual science of the sport but also the rich heritage of those racers that have gone before him.
"This news only serves as the start of next chapter in Dario Franchitti's racing career - which I expect will be here with Chip Ganassi Racing."
FRANCHITTI'S US RACING CAREER
IndyCar champion 2007/'09-11
Indianapolis 500 winner 2007/10/12
Combined IndyCar/CART Champ Car stats:
Fastest laps: 23
• 1997: Switches to CART with Hogan Racing after end of International Touring Car Championship, in which he had raced for Mercedes. Takes pole in Toronto.
• 1998: Leaves Hogan for Team Green and takes first victories.
• 1999: Finishes season level on points with champion Juan Pablo Montoya but loses title on tiebreak.
• 2007: Claims first title and Indy 500 then leaves IndyCar for Ganassi's NASCAR Sprint Cup programme.
• 2008: Breaks ankle early in unsuccessful NASCAR stint. Back to IndyCar with Ganassi at end of year.
• 2009-11: Wins three straight IndyCar titles with Ganassi.
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