Franchitti says he's returned stronger

IndyCar Series returnee Dario Franchitti says he has come back to the championship as a stronger character and a better driver after his brief period in NASCAR

Franchitti says he's returned stronger

After winning the 2007 IndyCar title, Franchitti left the series with the intention of establishing a stock car career with Ganassi.

But his maiden NASCAR season was disrupted by injury and then came to an early end when the team ran out of funding for his car. He subsequently accepted Ganassi's offer to return to IndyCar with them.

Despite his disappointment at how 2008 turned out, Franchitti said the challenge of changing series had been positive for him.

"I've been driving the Indy car for a long long time - over 10 years - and I got used to driving the car a certain way and I was comfortable in that," he said.

"When I went over to drive in the NASCAR series, Nationwide or Sprint Cup, I had to take myself out of that comfort zone.

"I had to learn to drive a car completely differently, a lot looser than I would have driven, a completely different feeling, a different style of racing, becoming more aggressive. All those things were pluses and things I learned.

"I've been lucky enough in my career to always be with good teams and never have been in a situation of losing a sponsor like that and not being able to run so that was character building. A lot of my friends have gone through that before so I take something away from everything I learned last year."

Franchitti admitted that he remained frustrated by how quickly his NASCAR bid had ended.

"There's disappointment that I didn't win anything," he said. "I've been lucky enough to win in everything I've ever done so to come over and have everything cut short by not having a sponsor it was pretty tough to take.

"I felt at the start I was really struggling to understand the car and the cars weren't particularly competitive at that time either, but the more I ran the better it was getting at driving the cars and understanding the car, the better the team was getting.

"But unfortunately I broke my ankle and that set us back again so it was a character-building year but there were definitely some high times and starting to run more competitively in Sprint Cup was really satisfying for me toward the end.

"Unfortunately for a bunch of reasons, we didn't get the results we were probably looking at. Then running the Nationwide car and qualifying on pole on the road course, qualifying for the front row at Bristol and running up front there and leading a bunch of laps at that race gave me a lot of satisfaction but it would have been nice to have kept that going, but it wasn't to be."

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