Dario Franchitti: A tremendous honor

Updated: March 25, 2014, 11:34 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

INDIANAPOLIS -- Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, feeling "very lucky" after his horrific IndyCar crash in October, will drive the pace car in the 98th running of the Indy 500 in May.

Franchitti announced in November that doctors had advised him it was too dangerous to resume his career after suffering a fractured spine, broken ankle and a concussion in the wreck at Houston.

[+] EnlargeThree-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti will be back behind the wheel at the Brickyard this year as the driver of the pace car.
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesThree-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti will be back behind the wheel at the Brickyard this year as the driver of the pace car.

"I'm doing OK. Dealing with a couple of issues with the head," Franchitti said during his appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday. "My memory isn't what it once was; it was never that good anyway. My ankle is limiting, but I'll take that. The options weren't so good.

"I'm just happy to be standing here, feeling very lucky."

The four-time series champion won the Indy 500 in 2007, 2010 and 2012 and is excited about being back behind the wheel at the Brickyard, even if it is the pace car.

"It is a tremendous honor for me to be asked to drive the pace car for the Indianapolis 500," Franchitti said.

"As a historian of motorsport and as a three-time winner of this great race, I will appreciate every minute of getting to pace the field. Although I won't be competing in the 'greatest spectacle in racing,' this will be as close as one person can get to the action."

Franchitti will pace the field in the May 25 race in a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. It will be the eighth time a Camaro has served as the pace car, and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race.

"He is a true champion who has earned the respect and admiration of competitors and race fans alike," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. "It will be very special to have Dario lead the field to the green flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

Franchitti's appearance as the pace car driver signifies a huge shift in Franchitti's career. He's moved into a driver development role with Chip Ganassi Racing, which switched to Chevrolet for the 2014 IndyCar season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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