INDIANAPOLIS -- Dario Franchitti just wins IndyCar championships. At least that's been the case since he returned from NASCAR in 2009.
But the combination of Honda's new engine, Roger Penske's dominance and some bad luck has Franchitti looking like anything but a champ in 2012. He's 12th in the standings, trailing leader Will Power by 100 points after four races, and he will need a drastic turnaround just to get back in the title hunt.
The good news is Franchitti will be spending the next 11 days working at his favorite track, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with a more confident outlook. Qualifying for the May 27 race takes place this weekend.
"In Brazil, I think we really turned the corner," the three-time defending points champ said during this week's practice. "We were 1/1 00th of a second off the pole, we definitely felt good with the race performance in Brazil and how the car drove. But all that has no bearing on what happens in Indy."
Titles usually do.
A win would make the Scotsman only the second three-time Indy winner from outside the U.S., joining Brazil's Helio Castroneves. A win also would put Franchitti in a tie with Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais for No. 7 on IndyCar's career victory list with 31, the most of any active drivers, and, of course it would give his championship hopes a real boost, too.
Five of the last seven Indy winners went on to win the season championship -- the exceptions being the points titles Franchitti won in 2009 and last year.
"I don't think much in those terms," Franchitti said. "I think about what we have to do to win this race. I don't think of any us look at in those terms. You just want to put yourself in the best position in qualifying and then the best position we can in the race."