Franchitti has won two of the last three IndyCar races at Toronto, plus a Champ Car race in 1999, so he's excited to get back this weekend to maybe turn around what's been a relatively challenging year so far.
“Well, I've always loved racing in Toronto,” Franchitti said during an IndyCar conference call. “I think it started off in 1997 when I was driving for Carl Hogan and had a pretty good start there, getting my first pole position. I've always enjoyed the track and the challenge of the bumpy surface and the multiple surface changes there. So that's part of it. Again, I definitely love the fans out there. I think it's something to do with the fact that it's quite a big Scottish and Italian expat community up there. It's always been fun to race there and definitely proud of the wins I've managed to have there.”
Franchitti’s win at Toronto in 2012 came at the end of a yellow-filled race that left some drivers fuming. Will Power was among those who were aggrieved, claiming Franchitti “done me dirty” on the track.
Drivers vent after the 2011 Toronto race
But rather than lament the rancor of last year, Franchitti said it may have actually been good for IndyCar.
“There was definitely some discussions after the race last year, after several races last year; and I think in a lot of ways, that was good,” Franchitti said. “I think it showed the fans the passion that the teams and the drivers have for what we do. I think sometimes we have kind of almost kept that passion too hidden maybe, and it was definitely out in the open. That was good. That is definitely a part of it, when you've got people in such a competitive environment, that's going to happen sometimes.”
As for the dust up between him and Power, Franchitti said there’s no grudges held -- at least on his part. “I think that's all in the past. Will and I had a disagreement about that. I think we have now I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I think we have now kind of realized we both had our part in that accident, and we've definitely moved on,” Franchitti said.
More wrinkles heading into Toronto — the reintroduction of push-to-pass, a system that gives a limited number of horse power boosts for a defined period, such as 10 seconds. The system is designed to add strategy and encourage overtaking on the track. (More details here.)
“It's going to be very interesting, you know, with that push to pass, how much power are we actually going to get,” he said. “I know the numbers of boost, but how much will it actually translate on track, I think there's going to be quite a big difference. That, combined with the fact that you are now allowed to defend again this year is going to make for some pretty interesting racing, and I think it will definitely liven things up a little bit.”
Also livening up this year’s IndyCar series is the return of blown engines, which were virtually nonexistent in the past few years of Honda-only spec engines. Franchitti said engine and mechanical failures have always been part of engine competition.
“I think Honda does a terrific job providing a very level platform, when it was one manufacturer, the engines didn't have mechanical problems. You didn't need to think about it,” he said. “Now that the manufacturer competition is back in, as people push, one of the byproducts of that is sometimes things fail, and that's something we definitely had before with manufacturer competition. It's something that I think you're going to continue to see, and it's just a by product of everybody trying to just get the upper hand I think.” Franchitti said so far the increased incidences of engine and other mechanical failures doesn't seem to have affected anyone's driving style.
Overall, Franchitti gives the Dallara DW12 good marks as a road and street race car.
“I think the car has actually exceeded my expectations. I think it's raced quite well,” he said. “So I think it's definitely done a better job than I thought it would. It's definitely a different animal to drive, and it's something that we are all still trying to figure out. Some people have figured it out quicker than others. But, yeah, it's not bad.”
As for some driver complaints that the car lacks low-end power, Franchitti said “You know, I think all drivers would love to see more power. I think the only way you're going to find that, though; either allowing more turbo boost or a bigger displacement motor.”
The Honda Indy Toronto airs at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, July 8 on ABC.