The 2012 IZOD IndyCar series started the season with new chassis', new engines, new teams and even some new drivers. But the same defending champion Dario Franchitti with the same Target-Ganassi team aimed to repeat his championship run with a fourth in-a-row title. It was not to be.
The Honda-powered #10 of Franchitti's showed speed all year and won the biggest race of the year but never could get the consistent podium finishes he had been accustomed to acquiring in seasons past. When the Scot won his prior four championships, it was normal to see Franchitti's name in the top three and winning races. Again, it wasn't to be even with a fast car.
Looked good, but started poorly
In 15 events during the 2012 season, Franchitti grabbed an impressive four poles. Only series runner-up Will Power had more with five. But the season didn't start particularly well for Franchitti.
Starting ninth, he struggled for a 13th at St. Pete and didn't improve much with a 10th at Birmingham. A pole at Long Beach, after the Chevrolet's were penalized, gave hope but troubles from every which way seemed to push Franchitti back in the pack where he finished 15th. A fifth in Brazil offered a ray of sunshine to what otherwise had been a bleak year so far. Then May arrived and with it Indy.
The team didn't have a good qualifying start by its standards, sitting all the way back on row six. But he worked his way to the front during a wild race that saw many lead changes. Takuma Sato tried passing Franchitti on the last lap in turn one but crashed, giving Franchitti the win under yellow. It was the veterans third Indy 500, having won the race in 2007 and 2010. By the way, his teammate Scott Dixon was second.
That jumped the #10 Target car to sixth in the points and hope reigned. The Indy victory was followed by a second at Detroit, pushing the Scotsman to fourth overall and now he was in the thick of the championship race.
Poles, but ...
But then the season became odd. Franchitti dominated, qualifying with four straight poles. But … and you knew there was a but - other than a sixth at Edmonton, Franchitti had three finishes outside the top 15. There would be no more poles the rest of the way and the championship became effectively out of reach.
A 17th at Mid-Ohio, a third at Sonoma, then a 13th at Baltimore followed by a second place at Fontana in the series finale, all cemented a dismal seventh place overall. He was nowhere near the championship fight in the latter stages of the 2012 season.
However, Franchitti did win the Indy 500 which is as important as anything else saying: "But any year you can win Indy and finish one-two is a good year." (Source - Target Ganassi Racing)
The Target team is always capable of turning it around and winning a championship. Franchitti has more than proved his abilities with many championships and Indy 500s under his belt. He and the team will be back for another crack at winning in 2013. In fact, Franchitti was matter-of-fact when he said at the conclusion this season: "We have to focus a little bit on everything this off season. The team, myself and Honda all need to improve and get a bit more consistent. We'll have a busy winter here for everyone on the Target team trying to improve for next season."
I would expect nothing less from the four-time champion when the 2013 IndyCar season arrives.
Sources - IndyCar
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.
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