Townsend Bell confirmed in DRR/Kingdom Racing entry for Indy 500

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – NBCSN Verizon IndyCar Series IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell will make another Indianapolis 500 start this season, and returns to a team that he has driven for twice previously.

Bell will be in the No. 24 Robert Graham Special Chevrolet entry for Dreyer & Reinbold/Kingdom Racing.

“We are extremely pleased to have Townsend back in our car for the Indianapolis 500,” said Dennis Reinbold, DRR team co-owner. “Townsend has proven to be a contender at Indy for many years including last year’s event when he was running second with 10 laps to go. With the Robert Graham brand, we feel Townsend and the No. 24 Chevrolet-powered machine will be right in the thick of things when the checkered flag is in the air on May 24.”

Bell has nine past official starts with DRR in 2008 and 2011 (also raced with DRR in the non-championship Surfers Paradise race in 2008 and the canceled Las Vegas race in 2011), and this year will mark his second ‘500 start with the team. He finished 10th in the No. 99 William Rast entry in 2008.

Last year, he turned in one of his better Indianapolis 500 performances, running as high as second in the debut of the Robert Graham livery with KV Racing Technology. A late crash resigned him to a finish of 25th.

Bell returns to DRR after past starts with KVRT (2014, 2009), Panther Racing (2013) and Sam Schmidt Motorsports (2012, 2011, 2010) in the intervening years.

MotorSportsTalk will work with Bell for additional content throughout the month of May. Here’s a recap of posts we did last year:

Townsend’s first installment of the MotorSportsTalk original series “Ten with Townsend,” post-NOLA Motorsports Park, is linked here.

After eating just one chip, NHRA drag racer says: ‘I seriously thought I was going to die’

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Editor’s note: Due to rain, Sunday’s final eliminations of the NHRA Carolina Nationals have been postponed to Monday morning at 10 a.m. ET. In the meantime, check out this rather unusual tale:

Remember the old Lays Potato Chips commercial from back in the 1980s that bragged “No one can eat just one”?

Well, ask NHRA Pro Stock driver Alex Laughlin and a few members of his team, and they’ll tell you they learned a very valuable lesson that there indeed IS a chip that you can only eat one of.

According to NHRA’s National Dragster, Laughlin and Elite Motorsports crew members Chase Freeman, Kelly Murphy and Brian Cunningham took part Friday night in the Paqui One Chip Challenge.

If you haven’t heard of the Challenge, Paqui Chips has produced a tortilla chip that the company boldly claims is the hottest chip ever made anywhere in the world. The secret is the “Carolina Reaper” pepper, considered the hottest chili pepper in the world, with a rating of 1.9 million Scoville units, according to PuckerButt Pepper Company.

How hot is 1.9 million Scoville units? Let’s put it this way: the Devil might even have a hard time taking this kind of heat. By comparison, a Jalapeno pepper only reaches 10,000 units on the Scoville rating. 

So while they were enjoying some downtime Friday night after the first two rounds of qualifying for the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina (suburban Charlotte), Laughlin and Co. paid $30 for one chip – you read that right, $30 for one chip, it’s THAT hot – and thought they could take the heat.

They thought wrong.

“This is the hottest chip in the world,” Laughlin said on an Instagram post that documented the entire experience, adding a warning, “What to expect: Mouth on fire, short-term loss of speech, impaired vision from tears, extreme profanity — or death.”

View this post on Instagram

Never. Ever. Again.

A post shared by Alex Laughlin (@alexlaughlin40) on

 

Laughlin’s post also includes several reader comments that Laughlin and his crew should have had milk on hand instead of water to try and cool things down because milk has a natural antidote to cool your mouth down after eating hot food.

Sunday morning, with his mouth and throat still a bit sore, Laughlin recalled the red-hot episode to National Dragster’s Kevin McKenna:

Never again. Never. Ever. Ever,” Laughlin told McKenna. “It was definitely not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

One of our guys showed me a You Tube video and it looked like it wasn’t going to be too bad. I like spicy food and it’s usually never a problem. I’ve been to those places with hot wings where you have to sign a waiver before you eat them and that’s never been a problem.

But this? This is on a whole different level. I thought it might last ten minutes. Fourteen hours later, I was still in bad shape. I woke up at 3 a.m. and Googled “internal bleeding.” I seriously thought I was going to die. We all did.”

So if the heat from the chip was off the hotness Richter scale, where did the stunt rank on Laughlin’s own personal Richter scale?

I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.

Well, I really didn’t think it would be that bad,” Laughlin told McKenna with a shrug. “I mean, it’s just one tortilla chip. Like I said, I can usually eat stuff that other people won’t eat, but I had no idea what I was in for.

“I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.”

If you’re up for another challenge in the future that involves eating hot food, Alex, here’s a suggestion: Even though it’s a few years old now, maybe you should try the Ice Bucket Challenge (but fill it with milk) to cool down quick. Just a thought.

Follow @JerryBonkowski