Mueller: News and Notes from Long Beach on Saturday

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The following is a press release from IndyCar Media.

Townsend Bell recorded his best Indianapolis 500 finish of fourth in 2009 with KV Racing Technology. The veteran driver will rejoin the team co-owned by Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven for the 98th running of the 500-Mile Race on May 25 in the Chevrolet-powered No. 6 car with American-based clothier Robert Graham as the primary sponsor.

It will be the eighth start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for Bell, a California native who will join Paul Tracy as analysts on NBCSN’s telecast April 13 of the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He’s earned three top-10 finishes, with a best starting spot of fourth in 2011.

“In 2001, Jimmy was my teammate in my first Champ Car event and in 2009 I had my best finish in Indy racing with KVRT, so coming back to the defending Indy 500 champions is special,” said Bell, 38. “I will be working with one of my favorite engineers, Gerald Tyler, so that is also a big plus. I want to express my gratitude to Robert Graham for their support.”

Bell sported a Robert Graham fedora at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last May.

KV Racing Technology won its first Indianapolis 500 last year with Tony Kanaan behind the wheel of the No. 11 car. Next month, four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais will drive the No. 11 Hydroxycut/Mistic E-Cigs KVSH Racing car on the 2.5-mile oval. Sebastian Saavedra, like Bourdais a full-season Verizon IndyCar Series entrant, drives the No. 17 KV AFS Racving car.

“Townsend is a proven talent who will provide valuable experience and knowledge to the team during the Month of May,” said Kalkhoven, who on April 10 was inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame. “I also want to welcome and thank Robert Graham for joining our effort.”

The Speedway opens for practice May 11 (a day after the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis), with qualifications May 17-18.

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E.J. Viso has a dual purpose at Long Beach this weekend – being competitive in his first Stadium Super Trucks race on the street circuit and working on a return to Verizon IndyCar Series competition.

“I’ve never driven anything in the air except for the curbs in Baltimore,” Viso said of the series owned by former Indy car driver Robby Gordon in which the off-road trucks navigate the tight corners and ramps. “Robby called a few days ago and invited me to the race. It’s a good program he’s put together; fans love it.”

Viso, who’s made 100 starts over six seasons in the Verizon IndyCar Series, said he’s hopeful of initially securing a ride for the 98th Indianapolis 500 on May 25.

“I’m working hard with my sponsors to come back into the series,” said Viso, who had a best finish of fourth at Milwaukee in 2013 with Andretti Autosport.

Tony Tellez

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