Dario Franchitti says his brief switch to NASCAR last year made him realize how much he loved racing IndyCar racing.
The 2007 IndyCar Series champion returned with Ganassi this season, and goes into the Homestead finale in the middle of a tight three-way title battle with Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe.
Franchitti had initially intended his NASCAR move to be permanent, but his rookie year was interrupted by a broken ankle and then curtailed when Ganassi had to halt his program due to a lack of sponsorship. However, he said it was the realization that he belonged in IndyCar, rather than those problems, that prompted him to return.
"The end of '07, the reason I went away is because I was looking for some motivation," said Franchitti.
"With going away, I realized how I much I missed actually what I love to do – driving in the IndyCar Series. So when I got the chance to come back with the Target team it was really a no-brainer.
"From the first lap I've really enjoyed driving the car, and ultimately for me that's what it's all about – when you get in the car and how much I enjoy that or not."
The 36-year-old Scot added: "I thought at one point I would have retired maybe by the time I was 35. But I still love it. The fact I can still be competitive, I'm still out there winning races and challenging for championships, it's just fun.
"Then there are the other things like being back in the paddock being with the people I grew up with – not only driver but team members – being back with the fans and going to the places we get to go to with the unified series. It all just adds up."
Franchitti had become unofficial number one driver at Andretti Green when he won the 2007 title in a straight head to head with his current Ganassi teammate Dixon. With both of the duo involved in this year's showdown with Penske driver Briscoe, Franchitti said he and Dixon would just have to battle it out.
"I think the difference is in '04 I was able to back Tony [Kanaan] up to the point of sacrificing race results," said Franchitti. "In '05, we all did the same for Dan [Wheldon]. In '07, Danica [Patrick], Marco [Andretti] and especially TK did that for me.
"The problem right now is that Scott and I are in a championship fight, so although we want to help each other out we can't sacrifice our own race results for it. We're both in our own fight."