Photo: Scuderia Corsa

NBC’s IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell caps off crazy 2015 with IMSA GTD title

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BRASELTON, Ga. – If you’ve lost track of Townsend Bell’s schedule this year, we don’t blame you.

Bell has been on the call for the majority of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and Red Bull Global Rallycross seasons on NBC Sports.

He made his ninth Indianapolis 500 start, finishing 14th in the No. 24 Robert Graham Special Chevrolet for Dreyer & Reinbold-Kingdom Racing.

He’s made his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut, where he finished third in the GTE-Am class with longtime friends and co-drivers Bill Sweedler and Jeff Segal in the No. 62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari F458 Italia.

He’s filmed the second season of “What’Cha Got?” presented by Continental Tire, where he hosts and instructs Major League Soccer stars in their battle to win a Lamborghini.

Oh, and of course, he’s also completed the full TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season in the GT Daytona class co-driving with Sweedler in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia.

On Saturday night, the pair redeemed themselves after a tough, late-season loss last year to score their first full-season title together as co-drivers.

Bell and Sweedler won only once this year, at Virginia International Raceway in August, but it proved a crucial win as their title rivals from Paul Miller Racing and TRG-AMR failed to taste the victory champagne at all this year.

Then the Le Mans podium trio reunited for a clean, trouble-free drive to fourth on Saturday evening.

Segal drove well as usual and helped Bell and Sweedler to the championship. Ferrari also clinched the GTD manufacturer’s championship.

“I am still kind of in shock that we have won this championship,” Bell said post-race. “Last season, Bill and I led the championship throughout the year and then lost it in the final race. This time, we have done the opposite and won it in the final race.

“It was a real challenge out there in the rain. The Ferrari doesn’t have the rear downforce that some of the other GTD cars have, which made things really difficult as the rain kept falling. But Jeff and Bill did an incredible job, and it was phenomenal to share another big success with the two of them.”

Sweedler, who’s one of the top gentlemen drivers in the field, added to Bell’s thoughts.

“What an incredible feeling to come from behind to win the championship,” said Sweedler. “The Scuderia Corsa team executed perfectly. We knew the rain was coming so we prepared a strategy that would let us be near the front in case the race was called, and we capitalized on it.

“We have enjoyed an amazing season with Scuderia Corsa, including a win at VIR, our podium at Le Mans, and now the championship. It is unreal, and I am very proud of everybody on this team – it was a true team effort.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.