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Sunday, April 19, 2009

After NASCAR failure, Franchitti returns to success in Indycar

After coming over to NASCAR last year, with his lovely wife Ashley Judd to add to the scenery, Dario Franchitti quickly saw the harsh reality that can happen in NASCAR if you’re not instantly successful.

He couldn’t secure enough sponsorship and his Cup ride with Chip Ganassi was shut down. Just as soon as it had started, Franchitti’s NASCAR career went the way so many crossover attempts have gone – it flatlined.

On Sunday at Long Beach, back at his natural habitat in Indycar, Franchitti was able to return to Victory Lane. After a year of wondering whether her husband would finish on the lead lap or even make the race, Judd was able to scream in joy as he crossed the start-finish line first.

Some people just aren’t cut out for stock car racing, and it appears Franchitti is on that list. But he seemed like a genuinely nice guy, so I’m glad to see the former Indycar champ back doing what he does best, and doing it well.

Helio breathes sigh of relief
Also having a great week was Indycar star Helio Castroneves, who was acquitted Friday on tax evasion charges. Also acquitted were his sister and Birmingham, Mich.-based attorney Alan Miller, who also represents NASCAR stars including Jimmie Johnson.

Fresh out of court, he hurried off to Long Beach to qualify and compete in this weekend’s Indycar race and ended up finishing 7th. Not too bad for a guy who just spent several months worrying whether he would go to prison. Though I suppose racing must have seemed relaxing after facing that kind of stress for so long.

While I’m not a tax lawyer and can’t comment on whether the verdict was the right call, I’m glad to see Helio back on the track. He’s a great personality and Indycar needs all the stars it can get, so it doesn’t become only the Danica show.

Speaking of Danica, the announcers actually had a legitimate reason to talk about her as she ran in the top-5 most of the day and was a legitimate threat to win the race.


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