Franchitti victory caps stunning return to series

By Lewis Franck

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Britain's Dario Franchitti was able to finally erase the memories of a disastrous foray into stock car racing by adding a second Indianapolis 500 victory in four years to his list of achievements on Sunday.

The 37-year-old Scot put in an almost flawless drive to become the 17th man to win the illustrious race on at least two occasions, vindicating his decision to return to the series after a brief stint with NASCAR in 2008.

"I expected to be retired by the time I was 35, so this was a bonus," the reigning IndyCar Series champion told reporters after completing a stunning turnaround of fortunes in less than two years.

"This means so much. To come back after going away for a year, win a championship and the Indy 500... it all worked out perfectly."

After winning his first Indy 500 in a rain-shortened race in 2007 and capturing the IndyCar championship the same year, Franchitti went in search of a new challenge.

The burly world of stock car racing caught his imagination and he made the jump to Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team.

However, he failed to make the necessary adjustments and competed in just 10 Sprint Cup races before Ganassi offered him a chance to return to the IndyCar Series.

"If we make a mistake, we make a mistake, we move on," said Ganassi, who became the first team owner to win the Indy and Daytona 500 in the same year following Franchitti's victory.

"If I thought Dario didn't know how to drive, he wouldn't be driving the car, no matter what happened in NASCAR. I knew he knew how to drive.

"His NASCAR experience, that was like as semester at sea. We did it and we're glad we did it but we're glad we're back home." (Editing by John O'Brien)