Dillon Battistini teleconference 2008-05-28

An interview with Dillon Battistini Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have two guests joining us today. Starting the...

An interview with Dillon Battistini
Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have two guests joining us today. Starting the call with us is Firestone Indy Lights driver Dillon Battistini. In a few minutes, we'll be joined by IndyCar Series driver Tony Kanaan.

Good afternoon, Dillon.

DILLON BATTISTINI: Hi there.

MODERATOR: Dillon is a rookie in Firestone Indy Lights driving for Panther Racing. He won his series debut at Homestead-Miami in March, and last weekend he won the Firestone Freedom 100 at Indianapolis. He also has two fourth-place finishes and ranks second in points as the series gets ready to race at Milwaukee this weekend.

Dillon, congratulations on a great start to the season. Let's look back for a minute at last weekend. You led 38 of 40 laps at Indy, but it certainly wasn't as easy as it sounds. Can you talk a little bit about the race.

DILLON BATTISTINI: Well, it was a dream come true really for me. Obviously my first season in Indy Lights, it was the first time I've raced at Indy. The car was fantastic from beginning to the end of the race. I was able to capitalize and lead most of the laps. It made it look quite exciting as well with a few overtaking maneuvers.

MODERATOR: Did you feel comfortable out there in the lead the whole time? Seemed like you were challenged pretty much non-stop.

DILLON BATTISTINI: Yeah, it was a pretty close race, but I'm used to that kind of thing. I quite like the pressure. I respond well to it. I'm really enjoying this oval racing, I'd have to say. I've done three now, I'm 1-2. If I can keep that kind of record going, hopefully I can progress to IndyCar fairly quickly.

MODERATOR: Prior to the season, did you think you'd be able to get off to such a quick start, winning a couple races right off the bat, especially races on ovals?

DILLON BATTISTINI: I wasn't really expecting that, no. My deal came together quite late and I didn't really do any pre-season testing at all. So I've been quite lucky that my team, Panther Racing, have provided me with such a great car and great backup and support from my team boss, John Barnes, my spotter Pancho (Carter). They've given me fantastic advice. They've been able to guide me really well.

MODERATOR: What have been some of the things you have learned on the ovals?

DILLON BATTISTINI: Well, I would say with oval racing, you have to be quite patient and pick your moment to attack. The car setup is really important, even more so than on a conventional circuit. So the relationship with the engineer is critical and the technical feedback is really important. So everything has to be right: the car has to be right, the team support has to be right, and the driver has to be good. So it's a great challenge and I'm really enjoying it.

MODERATOR: You won a championship in Asia last year. What was the process that led you to come over to the United States and then specifically to Firestone Indy Lights?

DILLON BATTISTINI: That's right, I won the Asian Formula 3 championship last year. Earlier in my career, I was focusing on trying to get to Formula One, but then I gradually realized that to make any kind of impact in Europe, you just have to bring a ridiculous amount of money. That's mainly why I went to Asia.

Then when I won the championship, it enabled me to raise enough money to come and race over here, which I think is a great career path. IndyCar Series is very high profile, obviously. The speeds are there. It's great racing. You haven't got the politics of Formula One to contend with either. It just seems like more fun in general.

I've realized that I really love oval racing, as well.

MODERATOR: Was that kind of a decision that you came to just based on circumstances or has there been any -- I guess from the history that we've seen, guys like Dan Wheldon enjoying success over here, has that type of success started to have an influence on yourself and other drivers in Europe to seriously consider the U.S.?

DILLON BATTISTINI: Yeah, a bit, I think so. I knew Dan from karting along with a couple of other drivers that are in IndyCar now. I watched their progress. Obviously they're having a great time out here. That's influenced my decision, for sure.

MODERATOR: Obviously we have quite a bit of racing left ahead of us this summer. What are some of the keys for you the rest of the way as you attempt to win a championship?

DILLON BATTISTINI: Well, as you said, I'm attempting to win the championship, so I need to be consistent and bring the car home every time out. That's my goal. I'll take the wins when I'm able to do that. But I've had one bad race so far. I had a stone go through the oil cooler at St. Pete, which led to the engine blowing up. Other than that, I've been in the top four every race. My goal is to just keep going with that kind of record and hopefully I'll be champion at the end of the year.

Q: Your owner John Barnes probably savors winning at Indy more than any other place he can imagine. What did he say to you after you won the Freedom 100?

DILLON BATTISTINI: He said a lot of nice things, actually. I could tell he was very impressed. One of the things he said is that I'm going to be a champion, so I think I can take that as a good sign.

Q: What has surprised you most about the Indy Lights Series this year?

DILLON BATTISTINI: What's surprised me most? Well, I'm not surprised by the level of competition actually, but it is very high. There were some very good drivers in Asian Formula 3, but the depth of competition is more here. There are several drivers capable of winning, as you've seen, from four different winners in the first five races. That's a really good thing because it gives the championship more credibility and makes it a bigger achievement if I do win. Nothing else has surprised me overly actually. I'm really enjoying it out here.

MODERATOR: Those are the questions we have for you, Dillon. Thanks again for joining us and best of luck.

DILLON BATTISTINI: It was a pleasure.

-credit: irl

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Series INDYLIGHTS