Andretti, Bell, Hart and Sweedler. Photo: Tony DiZinno

CPK leads partner portfolio for Townsend Bell’s Indy 500 effort

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – California Pizza Kitchen leads the partner portfolio announced Saturday at Long Beach for Townsend Bell’s Indianapolis 500 effort with Andretti Autosport, along with Robert Graham, Sombra Mezcal (tequila) and Justice Bros.

The full release from Andretti Autosport is below. A livery will be revealed at a later date. Bell, Michael Andretti, CPK CEO G.J. Hart and Bell’s IMSA co-driver Bill Sweedler were all at a press conference today, with pizza handed out:

California native Townsend Bell will be partnering with a hometown brand for his 2016 Indianapolis 500 effort, as California Pizza Kitchen (CPK), the authority in creative dining with a California vibe, joins to lead the No. 29 car’s sponsorship for May’s historic race. The 100th Running will mark a first outing in Indy car racing for the global restaurant company born in Beverly Hills in 1985.

Joining California Pizza Kitchen as a co-primary sponsor on the No. 29 will be Bell’s long-time sponsor and fashion industry leader, Robert Graham. The American Eclectic lifestyle brand will pull from its creative style to combine the influential design and complex patterns of Robert Graham with the globally-recognized branding of California Pizza Kitchen.

“Being a California native, I cannot think of a better fit than California Pizza Kitchen to join our team for the 100th Running of the Indy 500,” said Bell. “It’s awesome to represent a brand that I grew up with here. I love the fact that you can enjoy artisanal California cuisine all across the U.S. thanks to CPK. I’m also proud to have Robert Graham on board again for 2016 and cannot wait to unveil the No. 29 car in May.”

“California Pizza Kitchen couldn’t be more proud and excited to partner with Andretti Autosport and our friends at Robert Graham, another great California-born brand, to support Townsend Bell’s Indianapolis 500 effort,” said G.J. Hart, Executive Chairman and CEO at California Pizza Kitchen. “Much like the legendary Andretti family pushes the envelope in the sport of racing and Robert Graham takes wardrobe design to a whole new level, CPK is all about driving innovation forward when it comes to culinary experiences, from the iconic Original BBQ Chicken Pizza we invented in 1985 to our transformative new look and menu now available in our restaurants. We look forward to unveiling Townsend’s incredible car in the coming weeks and to cheering him on at the historic race this May.”

Added Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti, “It’s great to have California Pizza Kitchen come on board for Townsend’s Indy 500 program, especially as a new brand coming into the sport for such a historic event. To have California Pizza Kitchen’s partnership combined with Robert Graham’s continued support, the No. 29 car and Townsend are positioned for eye-catching success on all fronts.”

The newly branded No. 29 will take to the track for Opening Day at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 16. Indianapolis-based Andretti Autosport holds three Indianapolis 500 victories with the late Dan Wheldon (2005), Dario Franchitti (2007) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014).

Bell completes Andretti Autosport’s five-car line up for the 2016 Indianapolis 500 joining teammates Marco Andretti (No. 27 Snapple Honda), Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda), Carlos Muñoz (No. 26 Honda) and Alexander Rossi (No. 98 Castrol Edge / Curb Honda).

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.