- Associated Press - Friday, April 27, 2012

SAO PAULO (AP) - Three-time defending IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti is hoping to get his season going Sunday in the Sao Paulo 300.

Franchitti struggled in the first three races and admits there is still “a little bit of work to do” to improve his car’s performance, but is expecting the race in Sao Paulo will mark a “turning point” in his season.

The Scot believes he and the Chip Ganassi Racing team can do better job to try to make the No. 10 a contender again, and “hopefully this is the point that that we can change it.”

Franchitti is tied for 13th in the standings with 52 points, 75 behind leader Will Power of Penske.

“The first races were very tough for us, especially the first two, performance wise,” he said. “We are still not where we need to be performance wise. We have a little bit of work to do in the No. 10, but hopefully this weekend we can figure it out.”

Franchitti said a little bit of luck will also help him in his quest to improve from the poor start. He ran out of fuel in the season-opening race in St. Petersburg to finish 13th, and had a mechanical failure at the end of the race in Alabama to end in a season-best 10th place.

Franchitti started from the front in Long Beach after the teams using Chevrolet engines received a 10-spot grid penalty, but the race performance was good only for a 15th-place finish after he was forced to replace his front wing after making contact with Ryan Briscoe.

“I hope this weekend will be the turning point,” Franchitti said. “Some of it is performance and some of it is things like running out of fuel, all that kind of stuff. The one thing we can control is performance and we’ve got to improve that.”

Franchitti said his driving style is keeping him from having the same results as teammate Scott Dixon, who is fourth in the standings with 96 points after two second-place finishes to start the season. He said Dixon’s setup has been working but he is not being able to replicate its success on his car.

“We’ve been a little slow going to that because I don’t like to drive the car the same way as Scott, but that’s working, so we are going to have to work with that,” he said.

Franchitti said he and engineer Chris Simmons will have to find a way to make them a title contender again.

“We haven’t done as good a job as we can,” the 38-year-old Franchitti said. “We’ve been together for three years, we won three championships, but we haven’t done a good job for our first three races. Hopefully this is the point that that we can change it.”

Franchitti said he hopes to get a boost from the Honda changes being allowed to the cars’ turbochargers in Brazil.

“Hopefully it’s going to get us a little bit closer, because I think we were a little bit behind in the engine department,” the two-time Indy 500 winner said.

Franchitti, a four-time IndyCar champion, won the pole position in the inaugural Sao Paulo 300 in 2010 but finished only seventh despite leading the most laps. He was fourth last year on the streets of South America’s biggest city.

Franchitti also talked about the IndyCar’s struggles to recover the popularity that it had in the past, saying it’s crucial for the series to improve its domestic television package in the United States.

“We need our television partners in America to work with us or we go with somebody else,” he said. “We need a partner who will work with us with concern to our efforts or we will find new partners. It’s too important to the survival of the series.”

The IndyCar is currently broadcast by NBC Sports Network and ABC.


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