Photo: Alex Job Racing

NBCSN’s Townsend Bell caps 2017 driving season at Petit Le Mans

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NBCSN’s Verizon IndyCar Series analyst Townsend Bell is back behind the wheel at this weekend’ Petit Le Mans, with he, Bill Sweedler and Frankie Montecalvo piloting the Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS.

Bell has been a part-time competitor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this year in addition to regular duty as an analyst on IndyCar telecasts.

Bell, who won the 2015 GT Daytona class championship with Sweedler, admitted that being a part-time competitor in 2017 has been a challenge, but that he feels the team is well prepared for Saturday’s 10-hour enduro, noting that recent testing at the Road Atlanta circuit has given the team a nice boost of confidence.

“We’ve been hard at work to catch up this season to the other teams that compete full-time and I think we’re much closer now.” Bell said. “The opportunity to test and calmly go through a progression of set-up options at Road Atlanta with the team is really going to help us this weekend. It will be nice to have good baseline on the car off the trailer so we can just tweak on it for the race.”

Team owner Alex Job, whose team has only raced at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen, and Lime Rock Park this year, added that racing on a part-time schedule  does put them behind the eight-ball, and that the aforementioned test should prove invaluable this weekend.

“We had the guys and the team at Road Atlanta for a test, which was really money well spent,” Job said. “With the level of competition in the GTD class it is very difficult to cherry pick events and hope for success, especially with a car that is new to everyone. The test will show its value this weekend. Instead of searching for a baseline set-up we will seeking that tenth of a second come practice on Thursday.”

The team’s best finish in their four previous starts in 2017 came at the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, where they finished sixth in class.

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Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool