CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Racing signs Townsend Bell

JACKSON, MI - - U. E. "Pat" Patrick announced today that the team has signed 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Champion Townsend Bell to drive the ...

JACKSON, MI - - U. E. "Pat" Patrick announced today that the team has signed 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Champion Townsend Bell to drive the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard during the 2002 FedEx Championship Series season.


Photo: dan r. boyd

Bell, a native of San Francisco, California, had one of the most dominating seasons in the 16-year history of Indy Lights in 2001. He captured six of the 12 races taking the pole eight times (tied for most in a single season). For his efforts in 2001 Bell was named an AARWBA (American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association) First Team All-American in the "At Large" category.

The talented and aggressive resident of San Luis Obispo, California also made his CART debut in 2001 running two races for Visteon/Patrick Racing. Despite starting from the back of the field, because inclement weather cancelled qualifying at both races, Bell was very competitive. He finished 13th in his inaugural CART event on the oval at Eurospeedway in Lausitz, Germany and 12th, earning his first championship point, on the oval at Rockingham, England.

"We are very pleased to have Townsend competing for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team for a full season in 2002," Patrick said. "His record in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship Series, as well as his performance in two races with our team last year, clearly demonstrated his ability to make the permanent move to CART competition. We look forward to a successful season with Townsend behind the wheel," Patrick concluded.

Bell finished the 2001 season with 193 points taking the Dayton Indy Lights Championship by 44 points. He led the most laps with 385, and completed the most laps with 597 out of a possible 609. Bell also logged a total of 1003.814 miles out of a possible 1019.478. He is the 16th different Indy Lights champion since the series' inception in 1986 and the first American to win the title since Bryan Herta in 1993. In two years of Lights competition, 24 starts, Bell scored eight career wins (tied for fourth on the career list) and ten poles (third on the career list).

"I am obviously very excited about competing in my first full CART season," Bell said. "I want to thank Mr. Patrick and Visteon for this opportunity. Patrick Racing is one of the best teams in the history of the series and Visteon is a tremendous sponsor. I am looking forward to racing with them in 2002," Bell concluded.

Bell, 26, began racing go-karts at the age of 12 in 1987. After a hiatus he joined the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Series in 1997 scoring two victories in 10 races. Bell competed in his first Barber Dodge Pro Series event in 1997 then ran a partial season in 1998 and a full season in 1999 placing third in the championship with one win, four podium finishes and one pole.

In 2000 Bell made the jump to the Dayton Indy Lights Championship Series. In 12 races he scored two victories with four runner-up finishes and two poles. He finished second in the championship battle and scored the most points of any driver on ovals. For his efforts he was named the Indy Lights "Rookie of the Year" and claimed a place on the Lights "All-Star" Team.


Photo: John Francis/Motorsport.com

Today's announcement confirms Patrick Racing's commitment to the CART FedEx Championship Series and its new management. Patrick Racing, which is entering its 30th year of competition, is one of the most successful teams in the history of Champ Car racing. The team has captured 45 victories, three Indianapolis 500 wins and two national championships (1976 -- Gordon Johncock and 1989 -- Emerson Fittipaldi). U. E. "Pat" Patrick is the co-founder of CART and the "father" of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship Series.

Visteon Corporation is a leading full-service supplier that delivers consumer-driven technology solutions to automotive manufacturers worldwide and through multiple channels within the global automotive aftermarket. Visteon has about 80,000 employees and a global delivery system of more than 160 technical, manufacturing, sales, and service facilities located in 25 countries (www.Visteon.com).

For background, statistical information, releases, notes, quotes plus updates on race weekends, go to (www.patrickracing.com).

-pr-

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Series INDYCAR , INDYLIGHTS