Four-time IndyCar Series champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti announced his retirement from the sport today.
Franchitti, 40, is tied for eighth on the all-time list with 31 Indy car race victories and is sixth on the career list with 33 poles. Franchitti, who finished 10th in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings (four podiums, seven top-five and 11 top-10 finishes), suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the penultimate race of the season.
Click it: Post a personal note that will be collected in a book and presented to Franchitti
“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," he said 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 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, with a goal of winning a fourth Indianapolis 500 and a fifth IndyCar Series championship.
"I'd like to thank all my fellow competitors, teammates, crew and sponsors for their incredible support over the course of this amazing ride. I'd also like to thank Hogan Racing, Team KOOL Green and Andretti Green Racing for the opportunities to compete on the racetrack, and especially Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who have become like a family to me since I joined their team back in 2008. I would be remiss if I didn't thank all my fans around the world. I can't thank you enough for standing by my side for all these years.
"I'll forever look back on my time racing in CART and the IndyCar Series with fond memories and the relationships I've forged in the sport will last a lifetime.
"Hopefully in time, I'll be able to continue in some off-track capacity with the IndyCar Series. I love open-wheel racing and I want to see it succeed. I'll be working with Chip to see how I can stay involved with the team, and with all the amazing friends I've made over the years at Target.
"As my buddy Greg Moore would say, ‘See you up front.’ ”
Franchitti joined Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2008 and delivered two Indianapolis 500 wins (2010 and 2012), the first-ever run of three consecutive IndyCar Series titles by a Target driver (2009-2011), 13 Indy car wins, 16 pole positions and a win in the 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona. He's among 10 drivers to have won the Indy 500 three times.
Click it: Each one of Franchitti's starts has been with Honda power
"Dario Franchitti has done so much for Target Chip Ganassi Racing so it will be very disappointing to not see him in our cars next season," said Chip Ganassi Racing Teams owner Chip Ganassi, a former Indy car driver. "But simply put, Dario is a motorsports legend and will be sorely missed on the racetrack 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 Target Chip Ganassi Racing."
Franchitti, who made his CART debut in 1997 with Hogan Racing, made one IndyCar Series start -- the Indianapolis 500 -- in 2002. He joined Andretti Green Racing for the 2003 season. After winning the 2007 Indianapolis 500 and his first series title, Franchitti moved to stock car racing. He committed to return to the IndyCar Series, signing with Ganassi during the Belle Isle race weekend in late August -- for 2009.
Overall, Franchitti made 265 career Indy car starts. His four championships are tied with Mario Andretti and Sebastien Bourdais for second to A.J. Foyt's seven on the all-time list, and he is among three drivers in Indy car history to win at least three consecutive titles. He is fifth on the all-time list with 92 podium finishes and is tied for sixth with 119 top-five finishes.
Said INDYCAR in a statement: “As a four-time IndyCar Series champion and a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Dario Franchitti has etched his name among the greats of this sport, and his legacy will continue to influence future generations of competitors. His passion was born, in part, from a deep love for the sport and a reverence for its history, and Dario carries that heritage everywhere he travels and shares it with everyone he meets. Dario’s leadership on and off the track has helped shape INDYCAR, and we look forward to him remaining involved in the sport he loves.”