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Competition level of IndyCar Series impresses Franchitti

Dario Franchitti wasn’t around American open-wheel racing when it finally became one series again last year.

But the 2007 IndyCar Series champion, once a star in the rival CART series, can certainly see the difference now that he is back.

“The competition level has gone up, even since 2007. It’s just so deep now,” Franchitti said Sunday after winning in Long Beach, Calif., in just his second race back in IndyCar after an aborted shot at NASCAR in 2008. “Just about everybody is here and it really makes winning tougher and even more special when you do it.”

There was some surprise when the popular Scotsman decided to make the move to NASCAR.

He was a fixture with Team Green in CART from 1998 to 2002, then moved to the Indy Racing League’s IndyCar Series when longtime star Michael Andretti, Kim Green and Kevin Savoree bought the team from Barry Green, Kim’s brother, and renamed it Andretti Green Racing in 2003.

Franchitti won a career-best four times, including the Indianapolis 500, and had 13 top-fives and 16 top-10s in 17 races.

The speculation was that Franchitti either believed he had no more worlds to conquer in open-wheel or that those frightening crashes prompted his wife, actress Ashley Judd, to plead with him to move to the bigger, generally safer stock cars.

“I’ll tell you right now that Ashley never asked me to leave (IndyCar),” he said earlier this season.

Franchitti took his shot at NASCAR with Chip Ganassi, a longtime friend who owns teams in IndyCar and in NASCAR. The transition was tough, but Franchitti appeared to be getting the hang of the 3,400-pound stock cars.

“I have no doubt that he would have been a winner in NASCAR,” Ganassi said earlier this season. “It just didn’t work out the way we all hoped it would.”

When no sponsor turned up for his entry by July, Ganassi was forced to shutter Franchitti’s Sprint Cup team, putting the driver and close to 70 people out of work.

Logano rides with legend

DARLINGTON, S.C. – Before this year, Joey Logano was barely old enough to drive, let alone drive at Darlington Raceway. So it didn’t hurt having one of NASCAR’s all-time greats in Cale Yarborough show him around.

Logano is the 18-year-old phenom settling into the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing seat given up this season by Tony Stewart. On Wednesday, Logano toured the track “Too Tough To Tame” with five-time Southern 500 winner Yarborough, 70.

“This is one of the tracks where I wonder what’s going to happen,” Logano said. “So to have one of the greats in Cale show me is really neat.”

Harvick, Mears crews to swap

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Richard Childress Racing will swap the crews for slumping drivers Kevin Harvick and Casey Mears following this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Both teams have underperformed this season, the first in which Richard Childress Racing is fielding four full-time cars. Team owner Childress said he’ll swap the crews to get both teams performing up to their standards.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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