2012 Indy 500: Townsend Bell moves fast to get on pace at Indy

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SPEEDWAY – Love of racing can often mean lack of sleep.

Townsend Bell was a poster child for that philosophy on Sunday.

“Didn’t get much sleep last night, was on an airplane,” said the Sam Schmidt Driver-and he had good reason why.

As a driver in the ALMS series he was at Laguna Seca in a six-hour endurance race. He faced a number of mechanical problems but managed to get through the sedan race 7:30 P.M. pacific time. From there it was to a plane for a red-eye flight and finally an arrival at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway around 10 A.M.

“Looking forward to a little nap,” said Bell shortly after arriving at the garage-but there wouldn’t be much time for that.

Don’t forget that Bell missed the opening day of practice on Saturday to fulfill his duties in ALMS and arrived a day behind for his preparations for the Indianapolis 500. While certainly not a catastrophic miss of time, it did leave for one busy day of catch-up.

“We’re not looking to run a lot today,” said Bell of Sunday-but he had a bunch of things to do before.

For one he had to try on his race suit, which features a new primary sponsor in Braun Ability. Then its getting acquainted with the team he’ll have for the Month of May since Bell is working with the team in a race setting for the first time.

After that was the final touches to his seat, which required a few minor changes as Bell sat in the car for the first time. After a few more chats with the crew and some autographs for fans, Bell took off to the infield car center for his annual physical.

That takes an hour, and then it was a little bit of a break before heading out to the track at 3 PM where he was able to shake out the car over eight laps around the oval.

“Anytime your driving, its better than sitting on the couch,” said Bell-and that’s been his theme during the busy first week of the Indianapolis 500.

As only a part-time driver in the Izod IndyCar Series Bell has been more of a spectator than a regular competitor over the last five years. By driving in ALMS along with his duties in IndyCar, Bell believes that his skills can increase with more time in the car in 2012.

“I was thinking about it, Laguna Seca is mostly lefts, so it’s a good workout going into Indianapolis,” said Bell-though his chances for success were good even before practice.

In his four years in Indianapolis Bell has a pair of top ten finishes, including a fourth in 2009 with KV Racing. Schmidt looked at that when he brought Bell to his team before the 2010 Indianapolis 500.

He thinks that Bell’s extra driving will help during the month when he’ll also be mentoring rookie driver and teammate Simon Pagenaud.

“He thinks a lot about the process even though he’s not a full time competitor he’s really quick here and understands¬†Indy, which is unique to itself,” said Schmidt of Bell. “Certainly coming back this year with¬†Simon being a pure rookie we thought it was important to have somebody that had experience around here to help him through that process.”

While a little coffee might help Townsend through a busy day.