Conquest Racing has signed Italian driver Francesco Dracone to drive its No. 34 Dallara for the next two rounds of the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma's Infineon Raceway. Dracone, who has raced in Italy's Formula 3 series as well as European Formula 3000, will be making his series debut this weekend at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, where he passed his IndyCar Series rookie test last week. He will be replacing Mario Romancini for these events.
Sponsorship for Dracone's program comes from La Pasta, an Italian pasta company, and Halkin Jet, a business jet service which operates a fleet of Cessna Citation aircraft across Europe that is expanding its market to cross-Atlantic flights.
“I'm very excited to be making my IZOD IndyCar Series debut this weekend at Mid-Ohio with Conquest Racing,” said Dracone. “I had my first taste of an Indy car last week during a test session and it was a great experience. I want to use these two races with Conquest Racing as preparation for a possible full season next year.
“I had a good test with the team and I really enjoyed working with everyone. I'm looking forward to this weekend to get back in the car and to continue my learning experience.”
Dracone began racing karts in 1997 and moved to the Formula 3 Club Championship in 2001. In 2003, he made his debut in the Italian Formula 3 Championship, where he competed for three seasons. More recently, the Italian has participated in the European Formula 3000 Series.
While Dracone was completing his rookie test and learning the circuit he will be racing on this weekend, his teammate, Bertrand Baguette was also taking advantage of the test to familiarize himself with the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, as well as do some development work on the Conquest Dallara. When the Belgian driver takes to the track Friday during the first official practice session for the Honda Indy 200, it will mark the first time this season that he will be racing on a track that he has prior experience on.
“The test at Mid-Ohio went pretty well,” said Baguette. “It was my first test of the season, not counting my earlier rookie test this year. It was nice to go out and learn a track without the pressure of a race weekend and to be able to take the time to try different things that you can't do during a race weekend because there is not enough time. Heading into the weekend and knowing the circuit will make a big difference.
“Mid-Ohio is a very nice track. It is much smoother than others that I have raced on this season. It looks more like a European track, minus the runoff areas. There are fast and slow corners and it can be a little tricky. Hopefully we can have a good weekend and keep progressing from our last race.”