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NBC IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell’s house is robbed while he was at Rolex 24

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NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell just lost a large part of his racing career and he’s asking the motorsports community to keep its eyes and ears open.

While Bell was in Daytona Beach, Florida this past weekend to compete in the Rolex 24 Hours, his Los Angeles home was burglarized.

The thieves got away with a substantial part of memorabilia from Bell’s racing career, including rings and other mementos.

According to a report by The Associated Press, the thieves took 10 rings from his appearances in the Indianapolis 500, a ring for winning the 2001 Indy Lights championship, a Rolex watch for being on the winning team in the 2014 Rolex 24 Hours and also another Rolex for winning the IMSA title in 2015.

“All the work you put in to get all that stuff, and at least you have recognition of the achievement, and now it’s gone,” Bell said to AP.

Bell’s home was among five that were burglarized in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, which is located just north of Santa Monica and runs along the Pacific Ocean.

Not only was jewelry stolen, also taken was a safe, a locked drawer in a closet was removed and the overall house was ransacked, Bell told the AP.

Bell’s family did not want to tell him about the burglary because he was competing in the Rolex, so he wasn’t made aware of the theft until he returned home late Sunday night after competing and finishing fifth in class in the race.

But Bell tried to take the theft in stride.

“I don’t really think I’d be focused on a stolen Rolex while I was racing,” he told the AP. “Well, actually, I’m back to zero now on Rolex watches, so maybe I would have been thinking during the race I had to win because I’ve got to start my whole collection over now.”

The thieves may have a hard time fencing much of Bell’s memorabilia as all items are engraved with his name, year and achievement, according to the AP. Bell tweeted to the motorsports community to keep their eyes open if the pilfered mementos wind up on places like Ebay or Southern California area pawn shops.

As the saying goes, if you see something that’s related to Bell, say something.

According to police, the thieves scaled a six-foot privacy wall and broke into the house through a master bedroom window.

Los Angeles police investigators are working the case.

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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