Townsend Bell to drive for KV Racing in Indy 500

The Associated Press

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- KV Racing will field a third car in the Indianapolis 500 that Townsend Bell will drive.

KV won the race a year ago with Tony Kanaan, and now has Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Saavedra in full-time entries. The Chevrolet that Bell will drive will be sponsored by clothing designer Robert Graham.

''I promise you we'll be the best-dressed team in the paddock,'' joked Bell.

In seriousness, Bell believes he's got a chance to win with KV.

''From the moment I get there, I call it getting into battle mode,'' Bell said. ''I had my best finish at Indy racing with KVRT, so coming back with the defending Indy 500 champions is special.''

Bell, who has completed 1,308 of a possible 1,400 laps in seven career Indy 500 starts, has a best career finish of fourth. It was in 2009 while he was driving for KV.

''We had a good run in 2009, probably could have won the thing,'' said team co-owner Jimmy Vasser. ''We've always thought we could work together again. I think we have a really strong platform for our superspeedway cars. With Townsend's addition, he's our senior Indy guy, our most proven. We expect great things out of the two Sebastiens as well, but they are going to take great leadership from Townsend and I expect him to give them that.''

Bell said the 2009 effort was thrown together at the last minute, ran just one week of practice and started 24th.

''But we had an awesome car,'' he said. ''We've got the same engineer coming back, so I think the relationship and the confidence and the team - I can't think of a better confidence platform to come and do a one-off with and run the Indy 500.''

Bell competes part-time in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and was part of the winning team in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona. He also is an analyst for the NBC Sports' coverage of IndyCar.

He'll be racing in the sports car event at Laguna Seca the week before Indianapolis opens for the 500, which is a scheduling change for Bell. In year's past, he's raced the same weekend as 500 preparations began, and had to rush to Indianapolis - often a day late - to get in the car.

''This time I won't have to fly the red-eye like in year's past and miss the first day of practice, so I'm looking forward to that,'' Bell said.

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