Franchitti misses his mark

October, 4, 2007

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Dario Franchitti has a thing or two to learn about what to do when his spotter says high or low.

Not on the track.

In front of the microphone.

During an interview for ESPN's NASCAR Now on Thursday, the reigning Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar champion had about 10 seconds to get off the mark near the exit to pit road so this reporter could get on the air.

Perhaps he was feeling good about his ARCA qualifying run, the first step in his transition to the No. 40 Nextel Cup car of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates next season.

Perhaps he was deafened by the other ARCA cars that continued to roar around the 2.66-mile track as qualifying went on forever.

Perhaps he was suffering from indigestion from the lunch that Ganassi personally cooked for him.

Whatever, he didn't go as high as he was supposed to.

He didn't go anywhere.

He stood on the "X" as producers were yelling in this ear to get on the mark. We were almost as close together as he gets with his famous wife, Ashley Judd.

It was almost comical, but nothing about Franchitti's move to NASCAR's premier series is. Don't let his infectious accent fool you. He's serious about wanting to be successful in this sport made famous by Pettys and Yarboroughs and Allisons.

So far he's been a delight, laughing and joking and enjoying every moment.

He spent nearly 20 minutes in his seat waiting for qualifying to begin while other drivers hung outside of their cars. Seat time, I suppose, is important no matter what the situation when this is your first time in a stock car.

Hopefully, when his spotter tells him to go high in Friday's race, he listens.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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