Hildebrand Secures Fourth Row Spot, Bell Provides Late-Day Drama with Two Late Qualification Runs

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (May 18, 2013) – What appeared to be a smooth Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway suddenly got eventful for Panther Racing driver Townsend Bell. After initially qualifying in the 20th position for his seventh attempt at Indianapolis, Bell and team participated in open practice and were able to run several laps quicker than their qualification times. At that point the team decided to withdraw the No. 60 Sunoco “Turbo” Chevy’s original qualification effort and make another attempt to advance their position.

However, Bell was considerably slower on his second qualifying attempt and thus, removed himself from the secured Top 24 spots.

"We were fully trimmed out on the Sunoco 'Turbo' car and it was decent in practice right before we went out a second time, but then we lost a couple of miles an hour,” Bell explained. “We were baffled, we lost our position on the grid, and then we had to scramble to try some sort of magic and get it back in. I have no idea why we're going as slow as we are, but we'll work hard on it and get the car ready for race day. You just can't believe it.

However, Bell was considerably slower on his second qualifying attempt and thus, removed himself from the secured Top 24 spots. After a quick look at the data, the team sent Bell back in line to utilize his third and final qualifying attempt. With just 10 minutes remaining in the session, Bell recovered, posting lap speeds of 226.146, 225.797, 225.520, 225.113 and securing the 22nd starting spot with a four-lap average of 225.643 mph.

“You think it will be easy and we'll go out and move up another five to seven spots without trying too hard and then all of the sudden I'm out there and just can't believe the lap times,” Bell continued. “My heart sank, especially after all of the effort that everyone has been put into this. The guys came over my Bowers & Wilkins earpieces and asked me what was going on and all that I could tell them was that I was running it wide open. That's Indianapolis, but I also know the Panther Racing guys will get everything sorted for next weekend."

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.

Panther Racing’s Qualification History for the Indianapolis 500:
2012: JR Hildebrand (18th)
2011: JR Hildebrand (12th); Buddy Rice (8th)
2010: Dan Wheldon (18th); Ed Carpenter (8th)
2009: Dan Wheldon (18th); Scott Sharp (20th)
2008: Vitor Meira (8th)
2007: Vitor Meira (19th); Kosuke Matsuura (17th); John Andretti (24th)
2006: Vitor Meira (6th)
2005: Tomas Scheckter (11th); Tomas Enge (10th); Buddy Lazier (9th)
2004: Tomas Scheckter (10th); Mark Taylor (14th)
2003: Sam Hornish, Jr. (18th); Billy Boat (29th); Robby McGehee (31st)
2002: Sam Hornish, Jr. (7th)
2001: Sam Hornish, Jr (13th)
2000: Scot Goodyear (13th)
1999: Scott Goodyear (9th)
1998: Scott Goodyear (10th)