A Theory That Needs to Go Away

In the past, I’ve expressed my frustration at some of the comments posted in various IndyCar related Facebook groups. Most of the posts in these groups are well thought-out posts, with sometimes rare or interesting photos. It’s the comments that other people feel the need to add, that can make you want to pull your hair out.

I post this rant at the risk of sounding like the smartest guy in the room or an old man screaming at a cloud. On Wednesday night, I saw a laughable comment that we’ve all heard before, but it still makes me cringe anytime I read or hear someone saying it.

There was what appeared to be a simple post about Dario Franchitti, complete with a photo of him winning his first Indianapolis 500 in 2007, taking the checkered flag in a downpour. Most of the comments were about the weather, or Ashley Judd. Then the conversation got around to how Tony Kanaan had dominated the day, but pitting before the bottom fell out had cost him an Indianapolis 500 win – a very valid point.

That’s when the conversation took a very unnecessary turn. Someone responded to the Kanaan conversation with the tired old theory that Franchitti paid Kanaan back in 2013, by purposely crashing his car on Lap 198 while Kanaan was leading – effectively handing his friend the victory.

I am assuming that the person who posted that is not a regular reader of this site. I am also assuming that most regular readers here are intelligent enough to not fall into that way of thinking. So, I am probably preaching to the choir here, but just in case you agree with this school of thought – this is for you.

I’m not much on conspiracy theories. I believe the moon landing actually took place, I don’t think the US masterminded the attacks on 9/11 and I don’t believe for a second that Dario Franchitti intentionally drove his race car into the wall at over 200 mph, for any reason.

I am not a race car driver, nor did I sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night. For whatever its worth, I have ridden in the two-seater at IMS before. It tops out at around 180 mph, a good deal slower than these cars at race speed at IMS. Being in that car, I cannot imagine taking a chance of even slightly brushing the wall on purpose, much less slapping it as hard as Franchitti did.

We might see stock cars going at it with each other, but an Indy car is different. I honestly believe that no IndyCar driver would ever intentionally make contact with the wall. There are just too many bad things that can happen. If I’m not mistaken, Franchitti’s crash came shortly after a restart – within a lap or two. Than means the cars were still fairly bunched up. How irresponsible would it be if part of Franchitti’s front wing or sidepod flew up and made contact with a trailing car, or worse – hit the driver of a trailing car in the head?

Even if there was no trailing car, I seriously doubt that the notoriously frugal Chip Ganassi would take too kindly to Franchitti tearing up one of his cars on purpose. While uncommon, it’s not out of the question for a slap like Franchitti gave his car against the outside wall to crack the tub. If that happens it is a very expensive fix, if the car can be saved at all.

Then there is Franchitti’s reputation to consider. Yes, Franchitti was nearing the end of his career. In fact, it was only a few more months until he had his career ending crash at Houston. But he certainly didn’t realize it at the time, and remember – he was only one year removed from his third Indianapolis 500 win in 2012. Not only does a driver’s legacy matter, so does his reputation in the paddock among other drivers and team owners. If Franchitti had purposely crashed his car, just to let his friend win the Indianapolis 500 under his own yellow – he would be frowned upon throughout the paddock.

There may not be a more competitive athlete out there, than a race car driver. When they are competing, they don’t think in terms of being nice or paying someone back because they got screwed a few years ago. They think of one thing – winning. If they can’t win, the next thing they think of is finishing in the best position possible, not helping out a competitor – no matter how good of friends they are. If Al Unser was willing to prevent his son from winning the championship in 1985, I seriously doubt that Dario Franchitti would intentionally crash his car to let his friend win the Indianapolis 500.

There are not many certainties in life, but there are a few. There were such a thing as dinosaurs; the earth is round, and not flat; and Dario Franchitti did not crash his car in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 in order to help Tony Kanaan win. I would bet the farm on any of those.

George Phillips

6 Responses to “A Theory That Needs to Go Away”

  1. James T Suel Says:

    I agree 100%. I think those who write such opinions, are not race fans, and know nothing about the sport.

  2. I also agree 100%.

    Thank goodness i am not on Facebook.

    Trying to give up my smart phone too but that’s tricky!

  3. Bruce Waine Says:

    Armchair racing officials are the best authority oftentimes for their definitive clarity.

  4. billytheskink Says:

    Fortunately, I don’t think this incredibly dumb conspiracy theory has much traction with any significant number of fans… but it is amazing it is still out there.

  5. Anyone aware of how bad Franchitti was already busted up prior to his career-ending wreck should realize there’s no way in hell that guy wanted to make contact with anything. People think Dario retired because of the concussion/head injury. It’s because Dr. Trammell basically told him he couldn’t put him back together if he had any more accidents. There was nothing left to work with structurally on his spine after his third major back surgery.

  6. “Dario Franchitti did not crash his car in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 in order to help Tony Kanaan win.”

    the old “proving a negative” debate.

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