Indy Lights Champ Bell Makes AARWBA All America First Team Champ Car Bound Driver Is Third Indy Lights All American In Past Four Years DETROIT (Dec. 13, 2001) - Taking his place alongside such notable drivers as Jeff Gordon, John Force, Tony ...
Indy Lights Champ Bell Makes AARWBA All America First Team
Champ Car Bound Driver Is Third Indy Lights All American In Past Four Years
DETROIT (Dec. 13, 2001) - Taking his place alongside such notable drivers as Jeff Gordon, John Force, Tony Stewart, Kenny Bernstein and reigning CART FedEx Championship Series champion Gil de Ferran, 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship titleist Townsend Bell was named to the prestigious American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) All America Team earlier this week.
Bell, who captured his first major motorsports title in the final season of Dayton Indy Lights competition this year, is one of 13 drivers from all walks of motorsports on the All America "First Team." He joins off-road racing champion Rob MacCachren as one of two drivers in the hard-to-crack At Large category that is open to competitors from several different racing series. This year's winning panel of drivers will be honored at the AARWBA All America Team banquet, Saturday, Jan. 12, in Pomona, Calif.
Bell's election to the AARWBA team marks the third time in the past four years that a Dayton Indy Lights Champion has been elected to the All America First Team. Reigning FedEx Championship Series Rookie of the Year and 2000 Dayton Indy Lights titleist Scott Dixon earned First Team honors last year and 1998 Indy Lights champ and current CART Champ Car driver Cristiano da Matta made the team in his title season. Other notables that have earned AARWBA First Team honors following a championship-winning Indy Lights season include Paul Tracy (1990), Bryan Herta (1993) and the late Greg Moore (1995).
The complete 13-driver 2001 AARWBA All America Team this year includes Bell and MacCachren (At Large), de Ferran and Sam Hornish Jr. (Open Wheel), Force and Bernstein (Drag Racing), Gordon, Stewart and Kevin Harvick (Stock Car), Dave Darland and Danny Lasoski (Short Track) and Paul Gentilozzi and James Weaver (Road Racing).
"I am honored to be elected to the AARWBA All America Team and to join such a talented group of drivers on the First Team," Bell said. "When you set a goal to win a championship, you always hope in the back of your mind that your successful efforts will gain the attention and recognition of all involved in the motorsports industry. The media that cover our sport are among the most influential groups in our business and I want to thank all of you that helped make me part of this distinguished panel of drivers. This represents a first for me, but hopefully I will be fortunate enough to be recognized again by the AARWBA membership in the coming years."
After winning two races and Rookie of the Year honors in 2000, Bell returned for a second Dayton Indy Lights season with Dorricott Racing and sponsor DIRECWAY this year. He was the pre-season favorite for the title and lived up to the expectations, clinching the title with a win at Laguna Seca as the first driver since da Matta in 1998 to seal the crown with one race left in the season.
"I would like to particularly thank DIRECWAY, Bob Dorricott and the entire Dorricott Racing Team for their support over the last two years," Bell added. "Without them I would not be accepting this honor."
After clinching the crown at Laguna Seca, Bell went on to win the season-ending race at California Speedway for good measure. The Fontana finale was Bell's sixth victory in 2001 - half of the year's races - and eighth career Indy Lights race win in 24 starts in his two-year career. Bell's other wins in 2001 came at Long Beach, Milwaukee, Toronto, Mid-Ohio, and Laguna Seca. California also marked the fifth time in 2001 that he scored a 22-point race win sweep, with only Long Beach - where he charged from sixth on the grid for the win - not a dominating performance from the pole.
In regards to poles, Bell won a series-leading eight of them this year. The feat matched Herta's single-season record from 1993 and put Bell third overall on the career pole list with 10. His career win mark of eight in turn has him timed with Herta for fourth on the all-time Indy Lights win list.
Bell's championship season was also backed up by series-leading numbers in several other key statistical categories. He completed (597 of 609) and led (385) laps - more than any other competitor - and had eight total podium finishes that included a pair of second-place finishes at Mexico and Road Atlanta.
Like all of his AARWBA All American predecessors from Indy Lights, Bell is bound for the CART FedEx Championship Series next year as the lead driver for Visteon Patrick Racing. He already has a pair of races with the team under his belt, having competed for the U.E. "Pat" Patrick run squad in CART's inaugural oval track events in Europe this past September. Bell finished 13th in his debut in Germany and then scored his first championship points with a 12th-place finish one week later in England.