Ten with Townsend: Milwaukee and Iowa debrief

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Following an intense double dip of short oval races in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, including the thrilling Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway, we check in with our NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell for the latest in the MotorSportsTalk original series “Ten with Townsend.”

As written all year on MST it’s been another busy year for Townsend between commentating and sports car racing duties; he’s banked a class podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on debut as well. A series archive is linked here and as always, we thank him for his time and insights:

-What did you think of Sage Karam’s driving at Iowa? Where was your take on the Sage vs. Ed post-race debrief? Do you think Sage was in the right or wrong with his driving?

Sage was wild and careless. Unfortunately there will come a time when it bites him, or someone else…hard. BUT until then we will all want to watch him, because his current style is fearless and unrelenting. Reminds me so much of Tomas Scheckter in his early years.

I think Ed ran down there fired up but took one look at the build on the young warrior and settled for a little jaw jacking…can’t argue with his logic.

-When you’re going through a tough season, as Ryan Hunter-Reay is, what does a win do for both his and the team’s confidence?

I think it’s just huge relief. Impressive that they just kept their heads down through the tough times and stayed focus on getting things right.

-How impressed have you been with Josef Newgarden this year? Is the time right for him to jump to a bigger team, in your estimation?

I’ve known he was capable of these results from his rookie season. I’m happy he’s seeing the results now because he probably deserved a couple last year. I’m not sure CFH qualifies as a little team anymore. From what I can see, they have everything a driver could ever want to go win races. Good people, equipment, preparation, testing, etc.. I’m guessing that a big fat paycheck is the only difference at this point…

-Were you surprised Graham Rahal was able to come back twice on Iowa? You’ve been in a single-car team situation before, so how incredible is it what they’ve done this year?

Graham has been the big story all year for his fantastic race craft in all conditions.. A strong team with strong resources but one car is tough from a data collection and optimization standpoint. But at some level you have to look back on Graham’s multi-car team seasons and say “If it ain’t broke…”

-How lucky is Juan Pablo Montoya to have only lost 12 points after his first lap crash? How does he bounce back from this and not let it snowball the final three races?

He’ll be fine.. He knows it was random bad luck.. He’s probably much more concerned with maintaining thrust on one his RC jets right now.. He just flat out knows how to race….in his sleep.

-Three races to go: is it still Montoya’s title to lose or do Rahal, Dixon, Castroneves and even Power have realistic shots?

I predict Dixon and Montoya down to the last lap.. Iceman cometh…as always…

-Milwaukee and Iowa – what has been your biggest surprise?

I was surprised there weren’t more wrecks at Iowa… They were leaning on each other pretty hard at the end..Kind of like the last 20 laps at Indy.

-Who needs to put up a big performance in the last three races heading into silly season and the offseason?

Sato, Hawksworth, Pagenaud, Marco, TK, Justin Wilson, just a few that come to mind…it’s probably easier to guess who doesn’t.

-When you’re calling a race on a short oval like Milwaukee and Iowa, how do you balance covering what you need to cover when there is so much going on you can’t possibly hit all of it?

Nobody better at telling the story than Mr Diffey…I just try and keep an eye out for the detail and the developing situations…but it is busy!

-Lastly, following the PT and Seabass feature in the pre-race show, was that some good-natured ribbing you wanted to give PT in the booth afterwards? What was your take on the piece?

I was sad to see my bad-ass idol go Oprah on me. As soon as we got off air he turned to me and said “you better shut the &^%^ up or else I’m going to punch you in the face!” That’s when I knew he was the same PT everyone loves.