Dario Franchitti's much-anticipated move to stock cars will begin Friday with an ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway, The Associated Press has learned.
The 2007 Indy 500 winner and IndyCar Series champion has agreed to a multiyear deal to replace David Stremme in the No. 40 Dodge for NASCAR's Chip Ganassi Racing, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who requested anonymity because the deal had yet to be announced.
An official announcement is expected Wednesday at Ganassi's race shop in North Carolina. Ganassi also fields Nextel Cup cars for rookie Juan Pablo Montoya, another former open-wheel star, and Reed Sorenson.
Ganassi said Sunday at Kansas Speedway that he was close to a deal with Franchitti's open-wheel team, Andretti Green Racing, to get the 34-year-old Scot out of his contract, which ends Dec. 1.
Andretti Green Racing announced Tuesday it has released Franchitti from his driver agreement.
In an interview shortly after he won the IndyCar championship, Franchitti answered the speculation about a possible switch to
stock cars by saying, "NASCAR would be something different ... something I haven't done. Apart from Formula One, it's probably one of the few things I haven't driven. So that would be one of the reasons to look at that."
Franchitti is expected to get some much-needed seat time in stock cars by running a series of races, including ARCA, Busch and Cup, before the end of this season, much as Montoya did in 2006 after leaving Formula One.
Franchitti, who has insisted on one-year contracts in open-wheel racing to keep his options open, began his American open-wheel career in 1997 in the CART -- now Champ Car -- series. He moved to the IRL IndyCar Series in 2003 with Andretti Green.
He tied Montoya for the CART points lead in 1999 but lost the title to the Colombian on a tiebreaker. Franchitti finally got his championship last month, beating Scott Dixon for the title by 13 points when the New Zealander ran out of fuel on the final lap, giving Franchitti a win at Chicagoland Speedway.
Franchitti's four wins in 2007 matched his previous IndyCar total. He also won 10 times in CART.