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Ten with Townsend: Post-Le Mans, Road America debrief

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The fourth season of the MotorSportsTalk original series “Ten with Townsend” – a 10-question Q&A with NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell – continues this week following the KOHLER Grand Prix, IndyCar’s return to Road America and after Bell has returned from winning his class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

A full archive of past posts is linked here and we thank Townsend for his time and insights.

Here’s the breakdown after Sunday’s race, where Will Power held off Tony Kanaan and after the series made its triumphant return to the track.

What was most exciting part of IndyCar return to Road America for you? How does it compare to sports car weekends?

It’s just great to see the universal support across fans, drivers, media, etc. We don’t always ALL agree, but when we do, it’s a good feeling.

Did the race live up to expectations/hype?

As good as it gets.

Did you think the race length was good, or would you have liked to seen it extended a bit to make for some varying strategies?

Seemed pretty good. I think 60 laps would be about right for fuel (no saving) and time duration.

Do you think the tires fell off too fast? Or was the wear about what you would have liked to see?

Spot on. No complaints here. Of course, that’s from the air conditioned comforts of the booth.

When was the last time you remember seeing Will Power this dominant? What’s triggered his being back on usual form?

I’m not sure he ever left. But the qualifying issues have been the struggle the last few street/road courses. When it looked like he might get an interference call in quali…I thought…here we go again.

Has Pagenaud been lucky to get away with now three bad results in four races? Still his title to lose?

Road America was set to be a solid podium day before mechanical issues set in for Pagenaud. Same can be said for Scott Dixon. It’s not a bad thing for us fans that others have a chance to catch up now!

How impressive have Helio and TK been to you considering how strong both of their seasons have been?

There’s a reason they’ve both been at this for almost 20 years. Hard workers. Hard chargers. That’s what they do.

Newgarden’s resiliency to be able to compete this weekend. What did you make of the fact he A. drove and B. generally drove as well as he did?

I love what he represents across every measurable category. Outright Speed. Ability to win on road courses and ovals. Hard work. Grit. Self belief. Optimism. Teamwork. If we had more wealthy team owners in the paddock, JNew would be locked down with a king’s ransom already.

Coming back to Road America after the month at Le Mans, what was the feeling of those who were there (yourself, Dixon, Bourdais, Aleshin) and how you endured the Texas rain delay to survive that, then focus on Le Mans, then get back to your usual IndyCar duties here?

It’s not so bad. I can think of worse ways to burn through a few weeks.

Lastly, how nice was it to have both family here at RA and have Leigh back in the booth?

I misread this as ‘booth family’. You mean my chipper brutha ‘Diff’ and crazy cousin “Thrilla”?

Alex Zanardi showing signs of interaction three months after crash

Alex Zanardi recovery
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
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MILAN — Italian racing driver turned Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi has started responding to treatment with signs of interaction, more than three months after he was seriously injured in a handbike crash.

Zanardi has spent most of that time in intensive care after crashing into an oncoming truck during a relay event near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19.

“For several days now. Alex Zanardi has undergone cognitive and motor rehabilitation sessions, with the administration of visual and acoustic stimuli, to which the patient responds with momentary and initial signs of interaction,” the San Raffaele hospital in Milan said in a statement Thursday.

The hospital said that is “significant progress” but added that his condition remains serious, and that it would be “absolutely premature” to make a long-term prognosis.

Zanardi, 53, suffered serious facial and cranial trauma in the crash and was put in a medically induced coma. Doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

He was operated on several times to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face and the Milan hospital added that he recently had undergone another surgery to reconstruct his skull and would have another one in the coming weeks.

Zanardi lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago. He won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.