Townsend Bell Makes Official Return to Panther During Shakedown of No. 60 Chevrolet

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (May 13, 2013) – The speed started to pick up for National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while teammate Townsend Bell was able to shake-down the No. 60 Sunoco “Turbo” Chevrolet for the first time during Monday practice. Hildebrand finished the day fifth on the speed charts, while Bell made it on track for 11 laps after spending the weekend in Laguna Seca, where he was competing in the ALMS race.

“We just wanted to shake down the Sunoco Turbo car and make sure everything was working OK,” Bell said. “We’ll get into our program starting tomorrow. It’s fantastic to be back at Indianapolis and I’m happy to back with Panther Racing. I’ve worked with a lot of the Dreyer & Reinbold guys in the past as well, so we’re really excited about getting rolling this month.”

Hildebrand make his way onto the 2.5-mile oval on two separate occasions during Monday’s open practice, and was able to test his No. 4 National Guard car in traffic during ‘Happy Hour’ late in the afternoon. The 25-year-old turned a total of 47 laps on the day, and posted a best average lap speed of 223.624 mph, 40.2462 seconds.

“Pretty good second day of running in the National Guard Panther Racing Chevy, we ended up fifth and got a quick taste of how it feels in traffic. The car has been feeling really good and we’re continuing our program into the week as we work up to Pole Day.”

Bell ended the day in the 21st positions on the speed chart, but the 11 laps the No. 60 Sunoco “Turbo” crew turned on Monday were just a shake-down run of the team’s Chevrolet. Bell is making his return to Panther after previously racing with the team during the second-half of the 2004 season and for one race in 2005, where he filled-in for a then-injured Tomas Enge. The Californian’s best average lap speed on the day was 221.137 mph, 40.6987 seconds.

Track action resumes tomorrow for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 from 12:00 pm until 6 p.m. Chevrolet power swept the Top Five on today’s speed chart, with Marco Andretti leading the in the top position and the American was followed by Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Hildebrand, respectively.

Pole Day qualifications are scheduled for Saturday, May 18th. The 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race will be held on Sunday, May 26th and broadcast live on ABC starting at 12 pm (ET) with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM/Sirius Channel 211. Practice, qualifying and race coverage is also available on the IndyCar Mobile app from Verizon.