Season of challenges flew by

It's hard to believe that we are heading into the final race of the 2004 Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series season; it's flown by so quickly.

It's been quite a year for the ArcaEx team as well as the entire Andretti Green Racing organization. Two of my teammates, Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon, are poised to finish one-two in the points championship, I have the opportunity to be among the top five and Bryan Herta can finish among the top seven, as well. That's a pretty impressive run when you consider the level of competition found in the IndyCar Series.

Looking back on the year, it hasn't been without its challenges. Due to my suffering a back injury in 2003, I had only competed at a handful of the venues that we race at, so once we hit the track for a race weekend, my learning curve was pretty steep. Nonetheless, the ArcaEx team had its share of high points throughout the year.

We qualified on the outside of the front row for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500, then, in June at Texas we gave the ArcaEx car its first pole position and finished second in the race to Kanaan. We won our first IndyCar Series race at The Milwaukee Mile in July, and then followed with another win a few weeks later at Pikes Peak in the Honda Indy 225. It was great to be back in victory circle with so many of the guys that have been with me since I've been racing indy-style cars. Nazareth was also very special, as Andretti Green Racing recorded a 1-2-3 podium sweep with Dan, Tony and I taking the first three positions. So, there have been plenty of high points to celebrate.

While we might have hoped for a bit more consistency throughout the year, its reassuring to know that, race-in and race-out, the ArcaEx team has provided me with a car capable of running up front and winning races. That makes my job much easier.

I'm certainly looking forward to the offseason and plan to head back to Scotland for some fun and a bit of a break before we start our preparations for the 2005 season. I'm really looking forward to the 2005 IndyCar Series season as we'll be taking to the road circuits, which I definitely enjoy.

However, we still have one more event to undertake in 2004 ... at Texas. As I mentioned earlier, we had a very strong outing earlier this season at Texas Motor Speedway, so we're looking to pick up from where we left off, and to finish among the top five in the point standings would be a nice way to finish this season.

It's been a lot of fun, until next season ...

---- Dario Franchitti

IRL IndyCar Series driver Dario Franchitti drives the #27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Andretti Green Racing. He provided a diary to ESPN.com throughout the 2004 season. His Web site can be found at: www.franchitti.com.