Exclusive! Franchitti rates title favourites

As the teams and drivers gather for the CART FedEx Championship series finale, five drivers still have a chance of emerging as champion on Sunday night

Exclusive! Franchitti rates title favourites

Last year's runner-up Dario Franchitti started the year as one of the hot favourites, but after what he describes as a 'character-building year' he isn't in contention. So we asked the Scottish driver to asses this year's potential champions.

Series leader Gil de Ferran is in the best situation, knowing that finishing ahead of Andrian Fernandez will all but seal the title. "Gil's been one of the revelations of this year I think," says Franchitti. "He was always reasonably quick with the Walker car, but we never knew how good he was because he had Goodyear tyres. He's obviously made the Penske combination very competitive. At the same time I feel that he might have thrown it away when it really counted with the first lap crash at Surfers.

"Adrian Fernandez has been the master this year of not being particularly on the pace at all," continues the Team Green driver. "There are very few races you could say 'Fernandez was quick there'. It's through strategy and stuff, but they haven't really been on the pace, which is so frustrating for us. He's not made any mistakes, but then again he hasn't been anywhere near as quick and he's not someone who's laid it on the line. He's sneaking up on the rails. They've got the right tactics, if not the pace. As much as Gil's kind of 'thrown it away', at least Gil's been trying his hardest and been winning races, and been on the pace and pushing. Adrian's let it all come to him in a way."

While these two are the clear favourites, three other drivers have an outside chance. Franchitti's team mate Paul Tracy and Kenny Brack are tied on points, and both have to win to stand any chance of the title. Roberto Moreno, Fernandez's team mate at Patrick has to take pole, lead most laps, win, and hope all the others retire. It's a 'one in a million' chance. But it is a chance...

Franchitti: "Like Gil, I think Paul could have thrown his hopes away in Australia. Paul's driven some magnificent races this year. Very determined, and couple that with his more crazy moves... You know there has to be a balance somewhere. Sometimes Paul goes over the top with aggression, and sometimes he's plain unlucky and he doesn't get away with things that other people get away with from the stewards point of view. Obviously he's my team mate, so I kind of know more about the goings on there. As a team mate there's not really a lot I can do to help him on Sunday, much like last year when I was in that situation of going for the title, there was little Paul could do to help me. I'm just going to be doing my own race. And, of course, there's $1m for the race win, which would be nice!

"Kenny (Brack) has had a season a bit like Adrian's. Some consistent finishes and gathering points without really being one of the pace-setters. He was right with Adrian at the finish in Surfers, but again, everyone else had gone out in front of them! He's still looking for that first win, and he has already clinched rookie-of-the year, so overall he should be pretty happy with his season."

"Finally, there is Roberto Moreno," continues Dario. "Like the others, his race in Australia and his accident kind of screwed up his season. Roberto ran out of steering lock... And that would be frustrating for him. At least he knows what he has to do in Fontana!

"But it really has been the championship that no-one wants to win. Last year Juan and I tied on 212 points, and Gil's only on 153, so you can see how many points have been lost. No-one's taken command. "

To read the five championship contenders' own views on this weekend's race click HERE.

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