Dillon Battistini, Graham Rahal and Roger Bailey teleconference A’s record-setter gets ride to ballpark Date set for 18th Phil Casey Golf Tournament
1. Dillon Battistini, Graham Rahal and Roger Bailey teleconference: IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal, Firestone Indy Lights driver Dillon Battistini and Firestone Indy Lights Executive Director Roger Bailey were guests on today’s Indy Racing League teleconference.
Background on Graham Rahal: Graham Rahal is competing in his first season in the IndyCar Series, driving for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
Age: 19 (Birthday is Jan. 4, 1989) Career Starts: 12 Career Victories: 1 Career Top-Five Finishes: 1 Career Top-10 Finishes: 3 Career Poles: 0 Career Highlights: Finished fifth in Champ Car as a rookie in 2007, recording five top-five finishes. 2008 Highlights: Won his series debut at St. Petersburg in April, becoming the fourth driver to win his debut. Recorded top-10 finishes at Iowa and Watkins Glen.
Background on Dillon Battistini: Dillon Battistini is in his first season in Firestone Indy Lights, driving for Panther Racing.
a. Age: 30 (Birthday is Dec. 3, 1977)
b. Career Starts: 13
c. Career Victories: 4
d. Career Top-Five Finishes: 6
e. Career Top-10 Finishes: 6
f. Career Poles: 1
g. Career Highlights: Won the Formula 3 Asia Pacific championship in 2007, recording five victories.
h. 2008 Highlights: Leads all Firestone Indy Lights drivers with four victories and ranks third in points. Won from the pole at Indianapolis.
They said what...? Listed below are select quotes from today’s teleconference. Numbers in parentheses indicate approximate time codes from the audio recording.
*** Q. With yourself, Danica (Patrick) and Ryan (Briscoe) all winning races this year, is it important for American drivers to do well and win races and compete for the championship in order for the series to grow?
GRAHAM RAHAL (26:00): Yeah, I do think so, because the American fans ultimately ‑‑ and we are seeing it right now obviously with the Olympics. I think naturally American fans want to see American drivers do really well. And since I think it's the old patriotism thing and a sense of pride; it's one of those things, and it is an American‑oval based series. I think it is important for there to be a lot of American drivers, No. 1; and No. 2, for them to be doing well.
*** Q. As a new guy to the series this year, what are your observations of Scott Dixon and what he's been able to accomplish this year? How has he been able to pull off this type of season in your mind?
GRAHAM RAHAL (23:30): Well, it's been impressive. Obviously he's extremely good and we've all seen it and we'll continue to ‑‑ I think we'll continue to see it.
Scott is incredibly talented. I think we all know that. I've been surprised to see him kind of beat Dan (Wheldon) on a consistent basis, but it's one of those things, as they always say, if it's your time, it's your time.
And with Scott this year, it doesn't seem like they can do anything wrong. I mean, you look at Nashville and he missed his pit call and he ends up winning the race. You know, nothing has gone wrong. They have had some mistakes, I'm trying to think of exactly ‑‑ Watkins Glen obviously, but in the big picture, it's just his year; that's the way I kind of look at it.
As I said, he's extremely talented and I look up to him, and it would be great to ‑‑ if there's any guy that's a deserving champion, I think it's him. He certainly seems to be pretty humble, and you hate to see guys do well that are arrogant, in my mind.
*** Q. The win in Kentucky put you back into third place in the championship with three races to go; Infineon being the next one with the doubleheader coming up next weekend. But obviously the guys that you're chasing in the championship, Richard Antinucci and Raphael Matos, they have been very strong on the road courses. Talk about the battle for the championship, what will it take in these next three races to close the gap?
DILLON BATTISTINI (3:45): Well, they have just over a 50‑point lead over myself, so it's not too close of a gap but it's not that big, either. It only takes them to crash into each other once, and I could be right back in the hunt. They have already done it in practice once, so it would not surprise me if it happens again.
So that's really what I need to hope for. And also just focus on making sure that our road course performance at Sonoma is as good as what I've shown that I can do on the ovals. Neither of the two championship leaders have won on an oval yet, and I've shown I'm the guy to beat on the ovals this year.
*** Q. The 2009 schedule came out with 15 races and three new venues. Tell us about some of the changes for next year.
ROGER BAILEY (4:45): This is going to be our eighth season, and it is by far the best schedule that we have seen. It's out earlier than we have ever managed to get the schedule out in previous years.
We have three new venues joining our returning tracks, and I think it's where we need to be. I think we have a good mix of ovals and road courses. It will be nice going back up to Canada for a couple of trips. That is clearly an incentive for some of our friends from north of the border to come and join us.
But the biggest thing of all is to return to Long Beach after all these years. Long Beach has always been to me the No. 1 street circuit in the country, and there are some that are very close now I think. But in the past, Long Beach has set the standard. It's the one where everyone wanted to be and everyone wanted to win, and I'm just delighted and proud to say that that's part of our schedule.
2. A’s record-setter gets ride to ballpark: Oakland A’s pitcher Brad Ziegler, who has set a major league record for a career-opening scoreless innings streak, was driven to the ballpark Aug. 13 in the IndyCar Series street-legal two-seater.
Ziegler was picked up by Davey Hamilton at Oakland’s Jack London Square and driven to McAfee Coliseum with an escort from the California Highway Patrol. The 28-year-old righthanded relief pitcher has not allowed a run in 38 innings since making his major league debut May 31.
Ziegler is a fan of IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick, having met her during spring training in Arizona.
3. Date set for 18th Phil Casey Golf Tournament: The 18th annual Phil Casey Indy Racing Golf Tournament will be Sept. 9 at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort & Inn.
Phil Casey, consultant to the Indy Racing League following his retirement as the league’s senior technical director, will host the tournament, which has raised nearly $300,000 for charity over the years.
This year’s tournament will benefit Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno, Calif., and Hole in the Wall Camps.
Those interested in participating should contact Kris Callfas at (317) 492-6487.
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County Aug. 24 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with a doubleheader Aug. 23-24 at Infineon Raceway. The races will air at 5 p.m. Aug. 28 on ESPN2. The Kentucky 100 will air at 2 p.m. Aug. 14 on ESPN2.