When it comes to the Honda Indy Toronto, one of the drivers to watch is always Dario Franchitti. In the last three races held on the streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place,
Franchitti has found victory lane twice. Franchitti says for him, he thinks it all began back in 1997 when he was driving for Carl Hogan and got his first pole there.
“I've always enjoyed the track and the challenge of the bumpy surface and the multiple surface changes there,” he adds. “So that's part of it.”
The 2012 running of the event will mark a key event on the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule as it marks the return of the push-to-pass button. When drivers are close to another competitor, they can hit the button for an added boost of power to try and make the pass on their competitor.
“It's going to be very interesting, you know, with that pushâ€‘toâ€‘pass, how much power are we actually going to get,” he says. “I know the numbers of boost, but how much will it actually translate on track, I think there's going to be quite a big difference. That, combined with the fact that you are now allowed to defend again this year is going to make for some pretty interesting racing, and I think it will definitely liven things up a little bit.”
Combining the push-to-pass with the strong straight and then the tight turn three, Franchitti is predicting a crazy, action-packed race for Toronto. He says that with that turn, you’re going to see guys trying to make passes to the outside.
“With the pushâ€‘toâ€‘pass and the momentum that will give the trailing car, providing, though, the car in front doesn't use it, too, but that's going to give some serious momentum; that, plus the draft, you're going to see more outside attempts at passes there,” Franchitti explains. “That's when kind of a gray area forms, because it's one thing defending to the inside but the one thing we don't need is the cars who are defending coming back across into the path of the car who is trying to make an outside pass.”
Currently, Franchitti sits eight in points. If he is able to come home as the champion, it would mark his fourth consecutive championship to along with his three Indianapolis 500 wins. If Franchitti is able to win this weekend, he will also become the active win leader, ahead of Paul Tracy and Sebastian Bourdais.
“I'm definitely proud of the four championships and the three 500 wins,” Franchitti sasy. “You know, I know that the guys on the Target team and the guys at Andretti Autosport, what we did together, it's something that we â€‘â€‘ it's something we very proud of, because it's a hard thing to do.”
While Franchitti has continued to run strong this year, he has had his fair share of mechanical problems that have prevented him in getting good finishes. Though Franchitti says it’s all about learning the new car and teams and manufactures seeing how far they can push the envelope versus being conservative, as they were before, with only one manufacture.
“As people push, one of the byproducts of that is sometimes things fail, and that's something we definitely had before with manufacturer competition,” he says. “It's something that I think you're going to continue to see, and it's just a byâ€‘product of everybody trying to just get the upper hand I think.”
It would seem in part that Franchitti has been bitten more by the bad luck racing bug this year than other years, though he says it’s simply part of racing. He says that each driver goes through it at one point or another in their career.
“It's just part of it, and you've just got to deal with it and brush yourself off when it happens and move on,” he says.
He adds that there never comes a time where a driver thinks of quitting while they’re in a slump as fighting through the tough times is part of racing.
“I think I can see it on the team, as well, they can shrug it off, and you get back up and you keep fighting,” he adds. “That's what we are trying to do.”
Though bad luck aside, so far driving the new car this year, Franchitti says it has exceeded his expectations.
“It's definitely a different animal to drive, and it's something that we are all still trying to figure out. Some people have figured it out quicker than others,” he says. “But, yeah, it's not bad.”
He adds that all the drivers would probably like to see more power, but that’d only be accomplished by allowing more turbo boost or a bigger displacement bow turn.
Along with learning the new car, there’s also been the aspect of dealing with the new engine rule in where each driver is allowed so many fresh engines each year without penalty and must put so many miles on an engine before allowed to change it, without penalty. With some drivers being further down the line on engines than others, Franchitti says that’s could play into the championship.
“We have obviously got two full engines to run, what, six races on,” he says. “But, as we continue to push the envelope and Honda continuing trying to get more power and better fuel economy and those type of things, and Chevy do it and Lotus, you just never know sometimes when you push a little too far. So yeah, it definitely could play into the championship.”