By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter.
INDIANAPOLIS – Townsend Bell’s move to Andretti Autosport for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil seems to be paying off.
Bell has been in the top ten in each session since Monday with Fast Friday being the best day for the Californian, logging the fastest lap of the week without a tow at 231.342 mph. Needless to say, the Andretti Autosport driver is in position to cash in big come pole day on Sunday if he advances into the Fast Nine on Saturday.
Bell and his No. 29 California Pizza Kitchen Honda team have clicked well together despite only working with each other for less than a week.
“Everything seems to be going pretty well, I’m happy with the team and the car,” Bell said. “The guys have been doing a good job preparing everything each day. Now, we go into qualifying practice tomorrow I’m excited to see where we end up.
The 41-year-old noted back in Long Beach that working with a large established team with drivers like 2014 Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2006 Indianapolis 500 runner up Marco Andretti, 2013 Indianapolis 500 runner up Carlos Munoz and rookie Alexander Rossi would prove to be beneficial heading into his 10th 500.
So far, those vibes have proven to be true.
“It’s been great,” Bell said. “Just more information and the information has been strong and reliable. It’s helped us improve quicker.”
Working with championship winning engineer Craig Hampstead has also motivated Bell to do well this month, given Hampstead’s impressive resume (4 Champ Car championships with Sebastien Bourdais).
“You like guys that have a history of winning because there is an expectation there and I want to do anything to match his level of experience and achievement and I think so far it’s been a pretty good program.”
The rest of the Andretti Autosport squad has been near the top of the charts the entire week with Andretti setting the third fastest lap of the month during Happy Hour on Fast Friday at 231.673 mph. Ryan Hunter-Reay was the quickest man on Wednesday and Carlos Munoz was second quickest on Friday at 231.952 mph.
Rossi has established himself as a legitimate dark horse pick for the pole. On the heels of signing NAPA Auto Parts as a sponsor for the 500, the rookie has been impressive on his first laps on a superspeedway earlier this week.
The team has carried the flag for Honda the entire week as the Japanese manufacturer has found their footing after a dismal showing during last year’s Indy 500. Honda-powered cars have filled out the top 10 for much of the week as they head into the first round of qualifying tomorrow.
Image: Chris Jones/INDYCAR