Series news and notes 2011-09-30

IndyCar Series press release

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Battistini gets break with Conquest Racing
2. Fans Invited To Attend INDYCAR Championships Celebration Banquet at Mandalay Bay In Las Vegas
3. Concerts benefit Griffis Family Fund

The Indycar Series transporter
The Indycar Series transporter

Photo by: Alain Ehrhardt

1. Battistini gets break with Conquest Racing: Dillon Battistini approaches his IZOD IndyCar Series debut in the Kentucky Indy 300 much the same as he would any other race: Get a feel for the car quickly, provide succinct and proper feedback, and race as hard as he can.

Also, there's input from Conquest Racing team owner Eric Bachelart: "Don't try to impress in one shot." That's both advice and a directive.

"It's sound advice, but at the same time I don't know how many opportunities I'll get to impress in an IndyCar because I'm not the sort of driver that can run off and get my family to pay to do another race if this goes badly," said Battistini, 33, of England, who will drive the No. 34 car in the 200-lap race Oct. 2. "So I really want to do well. I'm not going to pussyfoot it, but at the same time I respect Eric's advice. I have to bring the car home and put in a solid performance."

Battistini, who passed his IZOD IndyCar Series rookie orientation Sept. 23 at Kentucky Speedway, won on the 1.5-mile oval in a Panther Racing car in 2008 and tested the team's IndyCar the same season. He hasn't had a regular ride for the past three seasons, but he's not been out of mind or view.

"I've been hanging around the IndyCar paddock as often as I can possibly make it," said the four-time Firestone Indy Lights race winner. "Since I stopped racing Indy Lights regularly I've managed to put together the odd one-off race in a Lights car. But I've done my best to stay in close contact with all the IndyCar teams this whole time and just been working at raising a budget, which has been just so difficult in the economic climate.

"I've finally managed to put something together and am massively thankful to Eric because I have a lot of respect for him with his tendency to give opportunities to up-and-coming drivers who might not otherwise get a chance at all. I hope I can repay his faith."

Battistini's faith in his abilities has been the driving force since coming to the States to race after wrapping up the 2007 Asian Formula 3 championship.

"I started racing when I was 9 and it instantly became my ambition to become a professional driver and I've come a long way, been through a lot of ups and downs," he said. "I'm now 33 years old and I feel like I'm getting pretty close to achieving my goal. I've come so far and now that I'm close I have to follow through. I can't turn back now, and it means a lot to me obviously or I wouldn't have been out there to keep going over the last three years.

"It's difficult because if you're not in the car regularly you're forgotten quite quickly, and that's why I've been in the paddock as much as possible. Friends and family don't understand; it's not an option. It's definitely where I want to be."

Bachelart, who turned over the wheel of the No. 34 Dallara to rookie Sebastian Saavedra for 14 races this season and to Joao Paulo de Oliveira for the road course race at Twin Ring Motegi on Sept. 18, believes Battistini can obtain all of their objectives.

"He has worked very hard and has always kept focus on the goal of moving up and after achieving a lot of success in the Firestone Indy Lights series he is now ready for this challenge," Bachelart said. "We had a good rookie test with him last week, obviously coming in to the second-to-last race in a series as competitive as IndyCar is not easy, the competition is extremely high, but we are confident that as a team we can help him get up to speed quickly and give him a car that he can go and compete with everybody out there."

2. Fans Invited To Attend INDYCAR Championships Celebration Banquet at Mandalay Bay In Las Vegas: Fans can join the INDYCAR community as it celebrates the completion of the 2011 season at its Championships Celebration Monday, Oct. 17 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas at 7 p.m.

For the first time, fans have the opportunity to purchase tickets to this exclusive event honoring the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights champions, as well as other award winners including the Sunoco Rookie of the Year. The top 22 drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings are expected to attend the event featuring musical act Nuttin' But Stringz and the 82nd Airborne Division All-American Chorus.

"The drivers, teams and sponsors are not the only groups that play a key role in making this sport so special. Our fans are just as important and we couldn't celebrate the end of the season without including our loyal fans," said Randy Bernard, CEO, INDYCAR. "We feel this event will be the perfect mix of Vegas glamour and excitement to put an exclamation point on the end of the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships Presented by Honda."

Tickets are priced at $150 per person and include dinner, drinks and entertainment. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.indycarworldchampionships.com/schedule.

The IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights will hold their season finale races during the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships Presented by Honda Sunday, Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-866-INDYCAR. Fans purchasing a ticket to any IZOD IndyCar Series race during the 2011 season are eligible to receive a complimentary ticket to the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships Presented by Honda. Tickets can be redeemed in the INDYCAR Fan Village in the Mandalay Bay parking lot during race week. Tickets are free for children 12 years of age and under with the purchase of an adult general admission ticket.

3. Concerts benefit Griffis Family Fund: Country music artist Michelle Murray will perform Sept. 30 (8 p.m.) at the Belterra Hotel & Casino's Center Stage Showroom in Florence, Ind., and Oct. 1 (7:30 p.m.) at Elk Creek Vineyard in Owenton, Ky.

The concerts are free of charge, with all proceeds collected donated to the Griffis Family Fund.

Chris Griffis, longtime team manager of Sam Schmidt Motorsports' Firestone Indy Lights program, died Sept. 12. He is survived by his wife, Mari, and two daughters. The team has established the Griffis Family Fund to assist the family with financial needs. Checks can be made out to Griffis Family Fund and sent to Sam Schmidt Motorsports, 6803 Coffman Road, Indianapolis, IN, 46268.

***

The next IZOD IndyCar Series event is the Kentucky Indy 300 on Oct. 2 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be televised live at 2 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is Kentucky 100 on Oct. 2 at the Kentucky Speedway. The race will be televised by VERSUS at Noon (ET).

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Series INDYCAR
Tags battistini, las vegas