Skip to content

Ten with Townsend: Toronto debrief

Jul 18, 2013, 9:20 AM EST

Honda Indy Toronto - Day 3 Getty Images

With the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader in the books, we again had the chance to catch up with our NBC Sports Network IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell for his thoughts on the weekend. With a busy schedule that’s also included his racing three other types of cars just since the last NBCSN race at Milwaukee, we definitely thank him for his time. Without further adieu, the latest from Townsend (see all prior installment links here):

-Toronto had a crazy first race, little quieter second. Do you think doubleheader format worked well here or is this place crazy enough that they better to pack all the action into one race?

I thought it worked well although I don’t want doubleheaders to start reducing the overall number of events on the calendar.  Clearly with Jakes’ accident on Sunday we are finding the limits of driver fatigue in doing both races.  Electric power steering might be a good consideration going forward.  That’s the intelligent solution to the problem I think.

-Standing starts – pass or fail? 

Pass. But let’s not pretend we are trailblazing here.  Let’s adopt the FIA F1 process for standing starts, lock, stop, and barrel and just replicate everything.  From how to treat aborted starts to what the lights look like and where they are placed.  It works, fans understand it, and it frees the series up to put their talents into greater challenges.  I think standing starts should become the standard on road/street, rolling starts on ovals.

-How much of Scott Dixon’s incredible last eight days do you put down to him, and how much to the team and what they may have found both in new engine spec and from their test at Sebring?

You have to give Scott full credit here.  He is executing on another level than the rest right now.  No mistakes, no dramas, just cleaning up.  He has been capable of that since Indy Lights.

-Should Helio be shaking in his boots at Dixon’s form or do you think that will motivate him and the Penske team to fight back harder? 

He should be nervous.  Ganassi looked untouchable at Toronto in both races for pace and consistency and we have a stretch of road and street circuits coming up.  Helio should be proud where he performed relative to Will Power- the standard bearer for Penske.  I think that shows Helio has studied Will and raised his game.

-Do you expect RHR to bounce back from a tough weekend? We’ve seen him be resilient before.

He always does bounce back.  He didn’t like my assessment of the accident with Power on Sunday but I’m always impressed with how he bounces back from drama.  Regardless of blame.  He is a quarterback-pedigree guy now and will lead his team down the stretch.

-From what you know about Tom Brown and his experience level, how much has his presence helped Bourdais and the Dragon team? Impressed at how quickly they have gelled?

I would say it’s been everything to do with the results.  Tom is among the very best in the sport and it’s a powerful combination when you pair him with a championship caliber driver.  I think they’re just getting started.  Have to respect Jay Penske’s passion for being the best too.  He is driven by one thing: winning.  Actually two things:  winning and beating his Dad.

-Biggest surprise and disappointment from Toronto weekend.

Biggest surprise:  Carlos Munoz- zero experience in an IndyCar on a street circuit, zero time to prepare.  Mistake free run and a star of the future.  Credit to John Barnes for giving another Lights guy a chance.

Biggest Disappointment:  Probably Mike Conway in qualifying because we all were expecting and hoping for another miracle like Detroit.  He still did a very solid job given the circumstances.  Nobody pushes harder than that guy.

-With so little track time for IndyCar on these doubleheader weekends, what could be done to improve the amount of track time other than slashing number of series on track or dropping the second race? 

Don’t need it.  I only had 3 laps of practice in SST before our standing start.  And there were two new ramps that we had never even seen on course for the race!  Why should IndyCar drivers get it any easier??!

-You’ve driven a little bit of everything since we last chatted with GRC, ALMS Ferrari at Lime Rock and Stadium Super Trucks at Toronto. You’d been used to the Ferrari but what did you make of your GRC and SST opportunities, and their horsepower amounts?

Xgames Munich with GRC was awesome.  Cars are amazing.  Super fast.  I was so stoked to win the LCQ and finish 6th in the main in my first attempt, especially with new sponsor- Royal Purple- on board.  Great event all around.  Plus I get mad street cred for banging doors in the air with Ken Block.

SST in Toronto was simply insane.  Insanely fun.   Robby and PT were my IndyCar idols growing up for their brash and wild demeanor.  So to roll out for practice with both of them, with 600 hp trucks and steel ramps was the ultimate joy ride!  The crowd loved it and we had a blast.

I’ve been very lucky this year to get to do so many different cool things behind the wheel.   Indy, Ferrari ALMS, GRC, SST, even a 3 million dollar vintage Indycar at Milwaukee.  I feel like Jim Carey in “Yes Man”.  Let’s hope it continues.

-Lastly, what was working with Steve Matchett like on the IndyCar side? 

Very good.  I have worked with Steve in the past with F1 on SPEED Channel and we picked right up where we left off.   His natural technical curiosity serves the fan well I think as he is literally exploring under the hood right along with the viewer at home.  I think that makes for good TV.  Hope to work with him again.  Also thoroughly enjoyed scaring the $%#@ out of him in the pace car.   Does that mean I need therapy?

Latest Posts
  1. Straight No Chaser to sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” at 2015 Indy 500 (VIDEO)

    Dec 22, 2014, 6:02 PM EST

    Credit: LeAnn Mueller Credit: LeAnn Mueller

    The big-name a cappella group will carry on one of the 500’s greatest traditions next May.

  2. Ferrari chairman expects another tough season in 2015

    Dec 22, 2014, 5:22 PM EST

    Italy Ferrari Montezemolo Out AP

    Sergio Marchionne: “I think 2015 is going to be a reconstitution year.”

  3. Top NASCAR stories of 2014: No. 10 – Jimmie Johnson falls short of seventh championship

    Dec 22, 2014, 4:50 PM EST

    (Jason Merritt/Getty Images for dcp) Getty Images

    Jimmie Johnson not only fell short of his seventh Sprint Cup championship in 2014, he also recorded the worst single-season finish in his Cup career.

  4. Sale deadline extended for dormant Nashville Superspeedway

    Dec 22, 2014, 3:00 PM EST

    Firestone Indy 200 Getty Images

    1.33-mile concrete oval outside the Music City has not hosted major auto racing since 2011.

  5. NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 24 Martin Truex Jr.

    Dec 22, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Hollywood Casino 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Truex’s first year with Furniture Row Racing was largely disappointing.

  6. NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 23 Marcos Ambrose

    Dec 22, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    Camping World RV Sales 301 - Practice Getty Images

    Ambrose narrowly missed clinching a Chase berth after his epic battle at the Glen with A.J. Allmendinger.

  7. MRTI Entry List update before the Christmas holiday

    Dec 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Photo via @IndyLights Photo via @IndyLights

    A quick roundup of who’s where at the moment in Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000.

  8. Scot Elkins will join Pro Mazda/USF2000 as Race Director

    Dec 22, 2014, 11:19 AM EST

    MazdaRoadToIndy

    IMSA’s Scot Elkins joins MRTI as race director.

  9. Carl Edwards: “I plan on winning 10 races and the championship”

    Dec 22, 2014, 10:15 AM EST

    EdwardsP9 Getty Images

    In interview, Carl Edwards sets some high goals for himself in first year with JGR.

  10. NASCAR: Jeremy Bullins promoted to Wood Brothers crew chief

    Dec 22, 2014, 9:29 AM EST

    Bullins Getty Images

    Bullins up to the Cup level as crew chief of Blaney’s No. 21.

  11. NASCAR: Dale Jr. expects even more performance in 2015

    Dec 21, 2014, 8:00 PM EST

    Ford EcoBoost 400 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Junior speaks highly, already, of new crew chief Greg Ives.

  12. Sutil rips F1’s pay driver situation

    Dec 21, 2014, 6:30 PM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-BRA-F1-PRESSER-SUTIL Getty Images

    Ex-Sauber driver Adrian Sutil calls out F1 pay-driver situation, although it could just be a case of sour grapes.

  13. WEC: 2015 sporting regulations for series released by FIA

    Dec 21, 2014, 5:30 PM EST

    AUTO-FRA-ENDURANCE-LE MANS Getty Images

    A number of tweaks are coming for the global sports car racing series.

  14. Late wreck ends hope of top-5 finish for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in dirt track race

    Dec 21, 2014, 4:58 PM EST

    (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Going back to his dirt track roots, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished eighth in the fifth annual Great Clips Battle at the Center in DuQuoin, Ill., on Saturday.

  15. Another week, another driver wedding; this time, it’s Ty Dillon’s turn (PHOTOS)

    Dec 21, 2014, 4:00 PM EST

    Lilly Diabetes 250 Getty Images

    The XFINITY Series driver for Richard Childress Racing marries girlfriend Haley Carey.

  16. UPDATED — Highway to Hell(cat): Owner wrecks 707-hp Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat one hour after buying it

    Dec 21, 2014, 2:54 PM EST

    (Photo courtesy Facebook via MotorAuthority.com) (Photo courtesy Facebook via MotorAuthority.com)

    With just 40 less horsepower than a 2015 Sprint Cup car, the new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is VERY powerful. One new Hellcat owner, who bought it just one hour earlier, found out the hard way about all that power.

  17. Top NASCAR stories of 2014: No. 10 – Kurt Busch and “The Double”

    Dec 21, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Kurt Busch AP

    The Outlaw takes on the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same day.

  18. NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 22 Brian Vickers

    Dec 21, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks - Practice Getty Images

    Vickers made his full-time return to Sprint Cup action in 2014, which in itself was a victory.

  19. NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 21 Paul Menard

    Dec 21, 2014, 12:26 PM EST

    (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Paul Menard had a decent season at times in 2014, but fell short of making the Chase in the final qualifying race.

Video from NASCAR America

NASCAR America's 2014 blooper reel
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. B. Vickers (2287)
  2. K. Busch (2129)
  3. C. Coughlin (1995)
  4. D. Armstrong (1974)
  5. L. Cassill (1840)