National Guard Panther Racing Team Fast Again, Bell Shows Speed in First Full Practice Day

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (May 14, 2013) – National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand continued to climb the speed charts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the 25-year-old Californian finished Tuesday’s practice session second overall on the speed chart. Townsend Bell put in his first full day of running in the No. 60 Sunoco “Turbo” Chevrolet, and finished 12th amongst the 34 cars that recorded times on the day.

“Our goal coming out today was to run with other cars as much as possible,” Hildebrand explained. “And inevitably that leads to a bigger lap time, but we’re not overly concerned with that, what we were focused on was how to make the National Guard car work as efficiently as possible – behind one car, two cars, three cars, etc. It was nice to be able to get out and run with that big pack later in the day, because that was a lot of fast cars. We feel pretty good about where we are, but the Panther guys will just continue to work, but overall for us it was a good day in the National Guard car.”

Hildebrand, who finished fifth overall in yesterday’s practice, turned a total of 67 laps on the day and posted a top average lap speed of 223.652 mph, 40.2411 seconds. Bell’s only previous track activity was a shakedown run on Monday afternoon, but the Sunoco crew stepped up the workload on Tuesday and the former Indy Lights champion turned 56 laps and had a top average lap speed of 221.898 mph, 40.5592 seconds.

“It’s just great to be back out here with Panther Racing, we’ve got so much support from Sunoco and Turbo and they’ve all given me a great opportunity to be in good equipment,” Bell said. “I was in Laguna Seca this weekend, and the Panther guys handled every little detail so we were ready to roll when I got back. In a lot of ways it was like I never left – it’s still John Barnes running the organization and they still have a lot of great people. I just love coming (to Indianapolis) and luckily this is my seventh time and it starts to feel pretty normal after awhile. Although the first outing I don’t think I took a breath for a good three-and-a-half minutes, but the car feels really good so far.”

Track action resumes tomorrow for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 from 12:00 pm until 6 p.m.

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.

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