Report: Townsend Bell, Buddy Rice land Indy 500 rides

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A report from SPEED.com says that NBC Sports Network analyst Townsend Bell (pictured) and 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice have both landed rides for this year’s edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

According to the report, Bell has joined up with Panther Racing for the “500” after securing sponsorship from Dreamworks’ upcoming Indy 500-themed film “Turbo.” He had appeared set to run in a third car for Sam Schmidt’s team at Indy, but because of Schmidt’s status as a Honda-powered outfit and a pact between Chevrolet and Dreamworks, Bell has instead migrated to a second program at the Bowtie-powered Panther camp alongside J.R. Hildebrand. He finished ninth in last year’s race for Schmidt.

As for Rice, he is expected to be the one to join forces with Schmidt regulars Simon Pagenaud and Tristan Vautier at the Brickyard this year. He last raced at IMS in 2011, finishing 18th for Panther.

Pending official announcements from the two teams, the additions of Bell and Rice to the field will put the car count at the magic number of 33. On that note, the SPEED.com report also mentions possible entries for 1996 Indy winner Buddy Lazier and USAC driver Bryan Clauson, who would be aiming for a second “500” start after driving for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing in last year’s event.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”