Scheckter And Bell Will Lead Chevy's One-Two Punch KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- All the questions about the learning curve for new Menards/Johns Manville driver Townsend Bell were answered in one lap during qualifications Saturday at Kansas Speedway.
Scheckter And Bell Will Lead Chevy's One-Two Punch
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- All the questions about the learning curve for new Menards/Johns Manville driver Townsend Bell were answered in one lap during qualifications Saturday at Kansas Speedway. Bell, the 2001 Indy Lights Champion, had not been on a competitive oval in over two years and had never turned a lap in an Indy Racing League car prior to Saturday. As it turned out, that didn't even matter. With just over an hour of practice time under his belt Townsend completed the 1.5-mile oval in 26.2020 seconds, 208.839 mph. He qualified seventh and will start on the inside of the fourth row.
Townsend's veteran teammate, Tomas Scheckter, was even quicker. Scheckter -- who has led 102 laps in his two starts at Kansas Speedway -- landed in the third row with his fifth place qualifying effort of 209.138 mph, 26.1646 seconds. This will be Tomas' third Top Five start of the season; his best start was third at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Tomas has collected 15th and 9th place finishes in his previous two trips to Kansas City. Scheckter and Bell were the two top Chevy qualifiers and will lead Chevy's 1-2 punch tomorrow in the Argent Mortgage Indy 300.
Panther Racing has three starts at Kansas Speedway during its history, and two of those starts have ended with second place finishes. Last year the Panther Pack started in 18th and finished 17th. The team has led a total of 74 laps in their three trips to Kansas City. Townsend is making his first career IRL start, but competed at Kansas Speedway during his time in Indy Lights.
"With the little time we've had the guys at Panther Racing did a great job getting me comfortable. I felt like I've been on this team for six months the way everybody has treated me so far. These guys are winners. With the help that we're getting from Menards, Johns Manville and Chevrolet, I think we're going to accomplish some good things this season. Chevy's been working hard, and that's part of what makes this transition so easy for me. All I had to do this weekend was show up and drive. Tomorrow we really want to finish the race and try to raise the bar higher and higher as we go."
"When we were getting ready for our qualifying run, there was something on the track, maybe a balloon or bird or something. I was in the high line anyway to warm-up, so it wasn't a problem for us. I have to thank my new teammate, Townsend Bell. He's already helped us. I took a look at his gearing strategy and noticed it was different from ours. The Pennzoil Panther guys made some changes, and thanks to Townsend, we're both solidly in the top 10. Chevrolet has again made some improvements, and as the season goes, we get better and better all around with the team. At a track like this, we wanted to start in the top 5 with our Pennzoil Panther Chevy so we could avoid the chaos behind us. We're looking for a solid finish tomorrow."