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Crash injuries force Dario Franchitti to retire

November 14, 2013, Staff report,

Open-wheel star had starts in all three national NASCAR series

Dario Franchitti, the three-time Indianapolis 500 champion who also competed in NASCAR and GRAND-AM Road Racing over the course of a varied career, announced Thursday he would stop driving on the advice of doctors following injuries suffered in an open-wheel crash last month.

Franchitti , 40, suffered two broken back vertebrae, a fractured right ankle and a concussion in a crash where his car went airborne and into the catchfence during a street race in Houston. Thursday, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver released a statement saying doctors have advised him against continuing to compete.

"One month removed from the crash and based upon the expert advice of the doctors who have treated and assessed my spinal injuries post-accident, it is their best medical opinion that I must stop racing," he said. "They have made it very clear that the risks involved in further racing are too great and could be detrimental to my long-term well-being. Based on this medical advice, I have no choice but to stop."

Although Franchitti competed most of his career in open-wheel cars, he made a detour into NASCAR in 2007 and 2008, competing in 18 NASCAR Nationwide Series events, one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and making 10 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Ganassi. The transition proved a rough one -- Franchitti's only top-five in NASCAR was at a Nationwide race at Watkins Glen International, and his best finish at the Sprint Cup level was 22nd at Martinsville.

Franchitti returned to open-wheel cars for the 2009 season. The Scotland native also raced eight times in the Rolex 24 at Daytona event, winning in 2008 as part of a Ganassi effort. He competed twice at the GRAND-AM level this season, finishing 11th at Daytona and third at Laguna Seca. He also has 31 victories in major open-wheel racing.

"Simply put, Dario is a motorsports legend and will be sorely missed on the race track by everyone in the paddock and in the stands," Ganassi said in a statement. "His contributions to the sport of motor racing are too many to list, but I can tell you that they go way beyond what he has done on the track."


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