Skip to content

Ten with Townsend: Toronto debrief

Jul 18, 2013, 9:20 AM EDT

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. GP2: Pierre Gasly claims first pole position at Monza

    Sep 4, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Gasly storms to pole ahead of Mitch Evans and Stoffel Vandoorne as American driver Alexander Rossi struggles to P10 on the grid.

  2. Ecclestone confident Vettel will be champion with Ferrari

    Sep 4, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Ecclestone backs Vettel to win a fifth world championship during his time with Ferrari.

  3. Boullier: McLaren intends to keep Button for 2016

    Sep 4, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    McLaren Honda's British driver Jenson Button walks in the paddock before the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.       AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Despite having four capable drivers and just two seats, Eric Boullier has a bold plan for 2016.

  4. Vettel relishing first Italian GP in Ferrari colors

    Sep 4, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany smiles during a news conference at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy , Thursday, Sept. 3 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni) AP

    After being the enemy for the Ferrari fans in the past at Monza, Vettel will now carry their hopes of a home win on his shoulders.

  5. Hamilton sure he can go quicker still after Monza practice

    Sep 4, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers this car during the second free practice at the Monza racetrack,  Italy , Friday, Sept. 4 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    Despite finishing well clear of the chasing pack on Friday in practice, Hamilton believes he can go faster still.

  6. Drivers run with tributes to Justin Wilson in Italian GP practice at Monza

    Sep 4, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Germany's Sebastian Vettel sits in the cockpit of his Ferrari during the first free practice session of the Monza racetrack, Italy , Friday, Sept. 4 , 2015. Each of the 20 drivers sported stickers on their helmets in tribute to Justin Wilson, the 37 year old Briton who was killed last month in an Indy car race in Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati) AP

    Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button among those running with a sticker paying tribute to Wilson on their helmets at Monza.

  7. WATCH: IndyCar Awards Show tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

    Sep 4, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    IndyCar’s season recap airs tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  8. F1 Paddock Pass: Italian Grand Prix (VIDEO)

    Sep 4, 2015, 10:59 AM EDT

    Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, left, signs autographs at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy, Thursday, Sept. 3 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    Will Buxton brings you the latest news, interviews and insight from the paddock ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

  9. F1 paddock reacts to idea of racing with closed or semi-enclosed cockpits (VIDEO)

    Sep 4, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT

    AP AP

    F1 drivers react to idea of closed cockpits possibly being introduced down the road.

  10. Off The Grid: Silverstone preview (premieres 9/5 at 9:30am ET on NBCSN)

    Sep 4, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Fans of Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP fly flags as they show their support for him afterhis victory in the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Will Buxton and Jason Swales head to Silverstone to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the British Grand Prix in the latest episode of Off The Grid.

  11. U.K. funeral arrangements for Justin Wilson announced; U.S. one details to come

    Sep 4, 2015, 9:58 AM EDT

    AP AP

    First round of funeral details for Justin Wilson have been confirmed.

  12. Hamilton quickest again in second Italian GP practice

    Sep 4, 2015, 9:31 AM EDT

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads his teammate Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the second free practice at the Monza racetrack,  Italy , Friday, Sept. 4 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    Mercedes romps to another one-two finish in FP2 as the rest of the field is left trailing behind.

  13. Jota Sport to race full FIA WEC season in 2016

    Sep 4, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT

    © Jota Sport © Jota Sport

    Jota Sport confirms it will expand its LMP2 programme for 2016 to compete in the full WEC season.

  14. WATCH LIVE: FP2 for the Italian Grand Prix on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET

    Sep 4, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT

    Britain driver Lewis Hamilton steers his Mercedes during the first practice session at the Monza racetrack, Italy, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. The Formula One race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni) AP

    Lewis Hamilton will be hoping to double up in FP2 after topping first practice on Friday morning.

  15. Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two in Italian GP FP1

    Sep 4, 2015, 5:31 AM EDT

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the first free practice at the Monza racetrack, Italy, Friday, Sept. 4 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    Hamilton finishes half a second clear of Rosberg to top FP1 on Friday.

  16. WATCH LIVE: FP1 for the Italian Grand Prix on Live Extra from 4am ET

    Sep 4, 2015, 3:45 AM EDT

    Technicians test a pit stop on a Ferrari car at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy , Thursday, Sept. 3 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    The Italian GP weekend kicks off with FP1 at 4am ET on Friday.

  17. NHRA: All you need to know about the 61st U.S. Nationals

    Sep 3, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT

    u.s. nationals logo

    Here’s all the information you need to know about this weekend’s 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis:

  18. NHRA: Year’s biggest race, the U.S. Nationals, ready to roll

    Sep 3, 2015, 6:54 PM EDT

    nhra logo

    The biggest and most important drag race of the season takes place this weekend with the 61st Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis.

  19. GP3 unveils new car for 2016 season at Monza

    Sep 3, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT

    © GP3 Series © GP3 Series

    The GP3/16 breaks cover at Monza ahead of its introduction next year.

  20. Mercedes uses remaining development tokens to upgrade power units

    Sep 3, 2015, 2:39 PM EDT

    A track marshal waves the checkered flag as Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line to win the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday Aug. 23, 2015. (Andrej Isakovic/Pool photo via AP) AP

    Mercedes goes all-in ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, fully upgrading the power units on both of its cars.