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Dario Franchitti to drive Camaro pace car in 2014 Indy 500 race

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Triple Indy 500 champ Dario Franchitti will drive in the legendary race again this year. But Franchitti will lead the pack in the pace car instead of speeding around the track as a competitor.

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Following a near-fatal crash on Oct. 5 in Houston, Franchitti announced in November that he was retiring from racing. Franchitti suffered a concussion, two cracked ribs, a broken right ankle and two fractured vertebrae in his spine as a result of the racetrack accident.

Franchitti said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday, March 25, that his memory “isn’t what it once was,” and that his ankle injury was “limiting.”

“But I’ll take that,” he said. “The other options weren’t so good.”

For the 98th running of the Indy 500 on May 25, it was announced on Tuesday, March 25, that Franchitti will drive an all-black Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 for the pace car. The popular Camaro has been the pace car eight times, starting in 1967. This year marks the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race.

“Dario is a true champion who has earned the respect of competitors and race fans alike,” Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports, said in a news release. “It will be very special to have Dario lead the field to the green flag in the Camaro Z/28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

Franchitti won the Indy 500 in 2007, 2010 and 2012. The 40-year-old Scot is only the third driver ever to win at least three consecutive IndyCar titles, among four championships overall.

“We are excited to have Dario Franchitti lead this year's Indianapolis 500 starting field to the green flag,” J. Douglas Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said in a news release. “Dario's appearance in the Camaro Z/28 Pace Car will be special for race fans and it underscores Chevrolet’s important place in the past, present and future of the Indianapolis 500.”

Since retiring from racing, Franchitti said he will make a new career start in a driver development role with Chip Ganassi Racing.

“It is a tremendous honor for me to be asked to drive the Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500,” Franchitti said in a news statement.

“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 in the new 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. 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. I can't wait until May in Indianapolis.”

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