Dario's column:

Autosport's columnist Dario Franchitti talks us through the latest round of the FedEx CART Series which, for him, was over before it had begun

Dario's column:

Nazareth really was a race to forget. All in all it was a strange event. We qualified six weeks ago, but then the race was snowed off. So we went back this weekend, and the whole event was run in one day. We had a one hour warm-up in the morning, and then it was straight into the race, starting in the order we qualified in back in April.

In the warm-up my car was very good, but we had a problem with the starter which we couldn't fix so I had to switch to the back up car. By the end of the session I'd only done seven laps in it, which is just seven miles... But it felt good.

We had qualified 14th on the grid in April. As I've said before, we're still playing catch-up after my testing crash, but second place at Motegi a couple of weeks ago was a real boost for everyone at Team Green, and we were all hoping for a strong showing at Nazareth on the one-mile oval.

The Nazareth track is an odd one. It's very hard to pass there, especially with the new wings, so we knew that we would have to be patient to get a good result. On TV you don't realise how much of an incline there is down the back straight, which makes Turn 3 quite a challenge. There's also a big bump towards the exit which doesn't help. Frankly, it's not one of my favourites, but you can't allow that to affect your performances. To be champion you have to be good everywhere, ovals, street courses, superspeedways and road courses.

So we get to the start. What can I say? I guess I have to put my hand up here. It was definitely cold tyres. When you're back in the pack like I was, you can only nail the throttle when the guy in front does. There was a lot of small stabs at the throttle going on all around me, which makes it much harder to judge when to really go for it. From 14th you can't really see the flag man, so really you rely on your spotter to make a call, and judge when the guy in front goes for it. Initially when we got on the power, everybody was really nervous, but I wasn't, I was just keeping it smooth, and I had no wheelspin.

Then when we were all getting up to speed, I thought everything would settle down. But when I got on the power a bit hard the KOOL car swapped ends on me. I guess it was just too much of the old right foot. There was no contact at all. I was running the car backwards down the track hoping no-one would hit, and then I managed to spin it, but I didn't get the car all the way around. I ended up backing into the wall, which caused enough damage to end my day. I was very disappointed. It's a long way to go to not even make the start. At least the other championship contenders didn't score so well, but that's little consolation.It's races like that you need to make up points.

But there's no point in dwelling on it. It happened and I can't do anything about it. All I can do, is look forward, and concentrate on the next race, and getting my season back on track.

I flew back home on Saturday night, although there was a thunderstorm over Nashville, so we circled for a while as the pilot tried to find a gap in the weather. Eventually he said we had to land somewhere else. We ended up in Alabama, at an airport with one runway, one hangar and nothing else. Kind of summed up my day...

What else has been happening? I quickly went back to Europe before Nazareth. I spent two days in Scotland and then went to Monaco for the World Sport Awards. That was fantastic. I got to spend some time with David Coulthard as well, which was great. Considering what he's been through, the guy's in fine form and it was good to spend an evening with him.

The World Sport Awards were incredible, a really impressive evening. There were some real giants of sport, like Emerson Fittipaldi and Giacomo Agostini. And with Nelson Mandela there it was incredible just being in the same room.

On the Sunday after Nazareth I sat and watched the Indy 500, and I have to say Juan Montoya did a really good job. It's just proved what a lot of people have been saying about him recently. And Jimmy Vasser too was fast and could have been up there if it hadn't been for that final fuel stop. But Juan... he's fast and he's driving well, and it's good that me and him have scored a similar number of points in the CART series this year.

We now go into a steady run of races, and June will be a very big month. Straight away we go to Milwaukee this weekend for another one mile oval race. People think the ovals must all be quite similar, but Milwaukee is totally different to Nazareth. It's wide and flat which means there are two lines, or 'grooves'. Passing is easier there, although the new aerodynamic rules haven't allowed us to have exciting races at Miami or Nazareth, so we'll see.

The trick at Milwaukee is to get a set-up that allows you to work the traffic - on a one-mile oval there's loads of it! I've been well there in the past, and I quite like the track. We tested there recently for a day, and it went OK, although we weren't right on the pace. But we have a good basic set-up, and that's always a good starting point. Now all we need is that little bit of luck. Last year a brake line burst on me and I did the last 70 laps without brakes. It was fine until the last pit-stop! I had two attempts at getting the thing hauled up, using the gears and pumping the brake pedal like crazy.

I've spent the last two days driving round the farm in a four wheel-drive Honda tractor which has been great fun - driving into rivers and so on. It has a semi-automatic gearbox, and is a great laugh. I've also been canoeing on the lakes here. That is great training for upper body strength, and really enjoyable too. On Thursday I go to Detroit for a PR day, I'm placing the final concrete block onto the track as they complete the building of it prior to our race. I don't know who's idea it was, but I've never driven a forklift truck before. I hope they know what they're letting themselves in for!

Then it's back to racing We're six races down now, and we've missed out too much already. Now we have to get some consistent finishes under our belts. We know we can do it.

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