Townsend Bell will run the No. 24 in honor of Jeff Gordon in this weekend's Indy 500.
INDIANAPOLIS - Most will agree in saying that Townsend Bell's Indy 500 ride is one of the more unique cars in the field, based on its livery. There is a lot going on with the car, but we wanted to focus on one aspect of it. The tribute to four-time Sprint Cup champion and outgoing NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon.
It's Jeff's last NASCAR season and I've always been a big fan of his and I'm trying to salute everything he's accomplished
The 40-year-old is making his ninth appearance in the 500 and the script of his No. 24 is made to look identical to the one on Gordon's stock car. Inside the cockpit, there is a photo montage of Gordon's five victories in the Brickyard 400.
How did it come about?
So how did the idea for a triubte to the NASCAR legend come about? "My team called me back in April or March and said 'what number do you want to do?' I didn't really care, so I just asked what's available," Bell explained to Motorsport.com. "They started at the top and when they got to 24, I said stop there. It's Jeff's last NASCAR season and I've always been a big fan of his and I'm trying to salute everything he's accomplished."
"His spotter is the spotter I use at Daytona for the 24 hour race each year. I met him once here years ago at the Formula One race. I've just always admired him and once he gave us permission to go with the number, we wanted to do it right so we did the top bit for him as well."
I'm looking forward to seeing him and cheering him on ... I thought it was a very classy, cool thing for him to do.
"I haven't talked with him (Gordon) yet but he'll be here on race day so I hope to see him then. He sent a note through an intermediary that he liked it though and that was cool."
"I'm just happy to recognize everything he's achieved"
Bell and company have surprised with the amount of speed they've shown this month. Not only is he running a one-off in the 500, but this is one of the few remaining teams who put all of their focus into just one race, the 500.
"I got a team of very experienced, very qualified, winning pedigree of people. We are all in this together. Everybody knows their job, no one is confused about where they're supposed to be, what's going on because they've all done it before many times and with great success. To get that great of a group of people together is rare and it gives me as a driver a lot of confidence in the team."
Gordon 'appreciative' of tribute
Gordon will drive the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 pace car prior to the start of this year’s Indianapolis 500 and commented on the tribute, following qualifying for the Coke 600 where he will start 18th.
"It was a while ago that I found out that they wanted to do it and I thought it was really cool with Townsend reaching out through some friends he knew near me to get my thoughts on it," he told Motorsport.com's Lee Spencer. "Of course, I loved it. I thought it was amazing and I hate that I haven't spoken to him directly. I've texted him and talked with some mutual friends and that is very cool."
"It was also before I knew that I was going to go up there and driving the pace car so I'm looking forward to seeing him and cheering him on. I'm very appreciative of that tribute, I thought it was a very classy, cool thing for him to do."
Bell qualified 26th for this weekend's race, but will start 23rd due to some driver changes throughout the field.