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Indy 500 completes return for Franchitti

ON THE SHELF: Leg, back injuries cost Mike Conway at least three months.

Getty Images (2009)

ON THE SHELF: Leg, back injuries cost Mike Conway at least three months.

INDIANAPOLIS — Dario Franchitti thought he needed a new challenge after becoming the IndyCar series' big winner in 2007.

Turns out he was wrong.

On Monday, the 37-year-old Scotsman savored the sweetest achievement on his comeback tour — winning his second Indianapolis 500 and giving team owner Chip Ganassi victories at Indy and the Daytona 500 in the same season.

"You know it hasn't really set in yet; it just doesn't right away," Franchitti said. "I couldn't quite believe it (Sunday) night."

Monday, the signature moment came at Ganassi's headquarters: A photo of him with Franchitti and Daytona winner Jamie McMurray as they stood next to their trophies on Indy's yard of bricks. Ganassi is the first team owner to win both races in one year.

Indy 500 winnings were announced at the race's annual dinner, with Franchitti earning $2,752,055 from a purse of $13,592,815 (see full payouts below). But to Franchitti, this quest was mostly about vindication after an awful half-season experiment in NASCAR.

"During that time, I just realized how much I missed IndyCars," he said. "It was kind of like 'Why did I leave?' "

After winning the Indy 500 and the series title in 2007 with Michael Andretti's team, Franchitti followed Tony Stewart and Sam Hornish into stock cars for 2008.

Big mistake. Franchitti started 10 races for Ganassi's Sprint Cup team, never finished higher than 22nd and saw the sponsorship money run out at midseason. On top of that, he broke his ankle in a Nationwide series accident.

But Ganassi discounted Franchitti's failures and brought the Scot back to IndyCar. Success has followed.

"His NASCAR experience, that was like a semester at sea or something that we did," Ganassi said. "We did it, and we're glad we did it, but we're glad to be back home, too."

CONWAY OUT MONTHS: IndyCar driver Mike Conway will miss at least three months with back and leg injuries from his frightening crash in the closing laps of the Indy 500. The Englishman, 26, had surgery for multiple fractures in his lower left leg and also has a compression fracture in his back that was not confirmed until Monday. Conway's team, Dreyer & Reinbold, has yet to say who will replace him in the No. 24 car.

SPORTSCARS: Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli won the Memorial Day Classic Grand-Am race in Lakeville, Conn.

Indy 500 completes return for Franchitti 05/31/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 31, 2010 10:02pm]
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