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NASCAR NEWS 

Franchitti retires on NASCAR debut

Dario Franchitti had a tough NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut in the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway, retiring with an oil leak following an incident halfway through the race.

The Scot had qualified 30th for his first official NASCAR race, and made progress early on breaking into the top-20 while remaining on the lead lap, even running ahead of fellow rookie Jacques Villeneuve at some point.

He ran as high as 15th place just before lap 100, but shortly after the halfway mark when he was sitting behind Villeneuve, he was involved in an incident with Clay Rogers on turn 3, causing damage to the front end of his truck.

After several visits to the pits to repair the damage, he still had smoke coming out of the rear of his car. On lap 148 his No. 41 truck was eventually black-flagged by NASCAR officials due to an oil leak, which the team was unable to fix.

"The truck was handling really well to start with and we were making good progress and really enjoying it," Franchitti said. "But we got really tight towards the middle of our first run there and we really started struggling. Then I got hit, spun around and kind of got spoiled from then.

"We came here with a program kind of thrown together a little bit to get experience, and that's what we did. So I've got to thank Chip and everybody in the team because we learned a lot for next year."

Franchitti had permanent advise throughout the weekend from his former Champ Car rival Juan Pablo Montoya, who will be teaming up with him next season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

"He's been really great just to help me," Franchitti added. "He's gone through it before what I'm going through. He's been on that path, so he knows which way to go. It's been really good and hopefully that will continue. It's good to be back working with him. We've had some great races in the past."

Franchitti's next race could be the Scot's NASCAR Busch Series debut at the 0.75-mile Memphis oval, where Juan Pablo Montoya made his first NASCAR start a year ago.

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