JACKSON, MI - - AUGUST 13, 2001 - - Dayton Indy Lights Championship Series leader Townsend Bell had a very successful test for Patrick Racing today at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Bell, who captured his Indy Lights Series...
JACKSON, MI - - AUGUST 13, 2001 - - Dayton Indy Lights Championship Series leader Townsend Bell had a very successful test for Patrick Racing today at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Bell, who captured his Indy Lights Series high fourth victory yesterday at Mid-Ohio, was testing a Champ Car for the first time in his young career. Running approximately 200 miles, including some on full tanks to simulate race conditions, he turned an unofficial fast lap of 66.6 seconds. The time was competitive with the other drivers testing today and would have put him well into the field for yesterday's Miller Lite 200.
"We were pleased with what we saw today," said Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee. "Townsend ran very well. The seat didn't fit correctly and it was his first time in a Champ Car so he had to adjust to the additional power and brakes. It was a complex day for him but, he handled things very well and was very consistent," McGee noted.
Bell, who drives the #30 DirecWay Dorricott Racing Lola in the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship Series, was obviously thrilled with the opportunity to test one of the Patrick Racing Toyota Reynards.
"This thing is a blast to drive," Bell exclaimed. "Patrick Racing's setup at this track is very good as evidenced by the fact that Jimmy Vasser qualified well and ran up front in yesterday's race. My main goal today was to get some laps, keep improving and learn all I could. These cars are incredible. The power of the Toyota engine is awesome and it is a real gas driving a Champ Car. The whole experience was just incredible," Bell said.
Commenting on jumping from a Lights Car to a Champ Car Bell said, "The Dayton Indy Lights Series has given me a good education in developing a feel for what the car will do and how to adapt to the increased speed of a Champ Car. Some of the characteristics of a Champ Car are similar to a Lights Car, but you have much more power and awesome brakes," he noted.
Bell went on to say, "It was good to have Mr. Patrick here and working with people with the experience of Jim McGee and Jimmy Vasser is invaluable. They have a first class operation and I am grateful for the opportunity to test with Patrick Racing. I did my best to live up to their expectations and my own. Today is a big day in my career, but in many ways it is just the beginning. I am ready to go," Bell concluded.
Bell was the Dayton Indy Lights Championship Series "Rookie of the Year" in 2000. In addition to leading the 2001 Indy Lights championship standings with 126 points and having the most wins, four in eight races, he is tops in poles with four. The San Luis Obispo, California resident has six career Lights victories.
"I was very impressed with Townsend's performance today," Pat Patrick said.
"We plan on testing him again at Chicago after the Road America race and hopefully, we can work out something to get him into a CART race before the end of the season."
Patrick Racing, which is in its 29th year of competition, is one of the most successful teams in the history of Champ Car racing. The team has captured 44 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.