Notes: Andretti Autosport names Bell as fifth team driver for 100th Indianapolis 500


AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Andretti Autosport confirmed that veteran driver and NBCSN analyst Townsend Bell will drive its fifth entry for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May. The 40-year-old American will drive the No. 29 Honda.

Bell has made nine career Indianapolis 500 starts with a best finish of fourth in 2009. He won the 2001 Indy Lights championship and has victories in a pair of prestigious sports car endurance races, the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

“Driving in the 100th Running of the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport is a great opportunity,” Bell said. "I think I’ll benefit from being part of a strong, multi-car team with a winning pedigree at Indy. 

“It’s such a well-oiled machine, so professional from top to bottom in every facet of business, and not only in INDYCAR. I always have to remind myself that they’re a Global Rallycross championship team and in Formula E, there’s so many exciting things going on in this organization.”

Team owner Michael Andretti was pleased to add Bell to the driver lineup that includes Marco Andretti, 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz and Alexander Rossi.

“If you look at his record at Indianapolis, he does very well there,” Michael Andretti said. “He hasn’t been with the top teams, but it seems like he’s always there in the top 10 and I feel like if we can put a good car under him, he has a good shot at winning the race.”

INDYCAR streamlines competition penalty guidelines

INDYCAR, the sanctioning organization for the Verizon IndyCar Series, has taken the next step in competition rules enforcement by streamlining and making public the penalty process.

The three race stewards announced prior to the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season – Arie Luyendyk, Max Papis and chief steward Dan Davis – have at their disposal a simplified penalty system for on-track infractions in the Verizon Indy Car Series Rule Book, the result of a collaborative effort from drivers, team owners/managers and league officials.

The penalty guidelines were in place for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend March 11-13 and made available to all this week in INDYCAR’s desire for rules transparency to media and fans who follow the Verizon IndyCar Series. The penalty guidelines will be in place again for this weekend’s Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix and the remainder of the 16-race schedule.

“The penalty guidelines were developed after numerous meetings during the offseason with drivers, team owners and other team principals,” said Brian Barnhart, INDYCAR vice president of competition, race control. “All of the stakeholders involved wanted more teeth in the regulations when it came to more serious violations of safety or competition rules.

“The result is that the stewards now have a more clearly defined set of rulings they can make,” Barnhart continued. “That includes immediate penalties for some transgressions that in the past would have been warnings on the first offense.”

Among the infractions that now incur an immediate penalty rather than a warning are: jumping a race start or restart, lagging back on a restart, blocking and avoidable contact.

“The drivers in particular wanted more strict penalties for these types of infractions,” Barnhart said. “They believe, and INDYCAR agrees, that these updated penalty guidelines will create cleaner, more exciting racing that is easier to officiate and easier for fans to understand and enjoy.”

Any of the three stewards or Barnhart, the race director, can call for a stewards’ review if one believes a competition infraction has occurred. At that point, the race stewards examine all information available to them, including video replays, timing and scoring and other electronic data, audio communications and more.

A majority vote of the race stewards then decides whether a competition infraction occurred. If so, the chief steward relies on the penalty guidelines to mete out warnings or penalties.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing adds United Rentals as sponsor

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced that United Rentals Inc., the largest equipment rental company in the world, will be the primary sponsor for the No. 15 Honda of Graham Rahal at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit, June 4-5, as well as a major associate sponsor on the car for the entire 2016 season.

“We are excited to not only welcome a new sponsor to the Verizon IndyCar Series but also one that is the largest in the world in its respective industry,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with former late-night talk show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Michael Lanigan. “The equipment services they offer fit well with the needs of many including the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock and we are proud Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will lead the charge with United Rentals in the series.”

United Rentals offers expert construction and industrial equipment rental, trench safety, temporary power, climate control, fluid transfer, tool management and technology services through the largest customer service organization of its kind in North America, with 897 rental branches in the United States and Canada.

PIR saluting Indy car legends before race

Phoenix International Raceway will celebrate its rich history of Indy car competition by saluting many legendary drivers and team owners Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix on April 2. It will mark the 62nd Indy car race at the oval in the desert with a history dating to 1964.

Selected legends will participate in a question-and-answer session with fans at 3 p.m. (local time) on PIR’s Fan Midway Stage, with all attending legends introduced at 5 p.m. during prerace driver introductions.

Legends in the Q&A session will be Billy Boat, Derek Daly, Lyn St. James and Dick Simon. They will be joined in prerace introductions by Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Bryan Herta, Arie Luyendyk, Max Papis, Roger Penske, Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Rahal, Sam Schmidt and Tom Sneva.

From the fans