Townsend Bell will aim to start his 10th Indianapolis 500 race with arguably his best ride. Andretti Autosport confirmed today that they will field a fifth car in next month’s Indy 500 for Bell, who’s best career finish in the historic race was fourth in 2009. This will be the seventh different team that Bell will have driven for at Indianapolis (Vision, Dreyer & Reinbold, KV Racing, Ganassi-Schmidt, Sam Schmidt, Panther). With the exception of 2007, Bell has started every Indy 500 race since 2006.
Bell joins a strong Andretti squad, with full-time drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz, and Rookie Alexander Rossi. Team owner Michael Andretti said the deal came together in just a few days, last week. Bell will be in the No. 29 car, which is the first time he’ll be driving a Honda since the 2012 race. That was the same race where he worked with current Director of Race Operations for Andretti, Rob Edwards.
Bell is excited to join the team, which has three Indianapolis 500 victories (Wheldon in 2005, Franchitti in 2007, Hunter-Reay in 2014). “I think I’ll benefit from being part of a strong multi-car team with a winning pedigree at Indy. This is my ninth-consecutive start and I’m glad it’s all come together the way it has – I’m looking forward to working with Honda again and having the chance to race for one of the best teams in the sport.”
“We’re really pleased to be able to field a fifth entry for Townsend,” said Andretti. “Even though he is not in the car full-time, Townsend has proven he can quickly get up to speed – he’s shown it’s possible to compete once a year and be competitive. We see a lot of promise in his ability and are looking forward to having five cars challenging for a win at the 100th running this May.”
Craig Hampson will be the engineer, who served in the same role in 2014 with Kurt Busch. Bell will not participate in next week’s open test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 6.
In his nine career Indy 500 starts, Bell has completed 1699 of a possible 1800 laps, and has consistently run very well with equipment that isn’t quite to the level of the top teams in the series. Now with a strong organization like Andretti, one would have to think he has an excellent opportunity in front of him next month. It’s an opportunity that Bell has earned.