Townsend Bell, Dennis Reinbold, and Robert Graham

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Dreyer & Reinbold - Kingdom Racing announced that Townsend Bell will drive the No. 24 Robert Graham Special in the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bell, who turns 40 on April 19, will attempt to make his ninth Indy 500 start. He previously drove for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in 2008 in the 500 Mile Race.

“We are extremely pleased to have Townsend back in our car for the Indianapolis 500,” Dennis Reinbold said. “Townsend has proven to be contender at Indy for many years, including last year’s event when he was running second with 10 laps to go.  With the Robert Graham brand, we feel Townsend and No. 24 Chevrolet-powered machine will be right in the thick of things when the checkered flag is in the air on May 24.”

Robert Graham, the New York-based luxury men’s fashion brand, returns to the Indy 500 after debuting in 2014 as a primary partner of Bell’s entry. The entry will salute NASCAR driver and former Indiana resident Jeff Gordon in his final full season in motorsports. The 24 script on Bell’s car will match the No. 24 of Gordon’s Chevrolet race car.

“I am very excited to come back to the Indy 500 with Robert Graham as well as Dreyer & Reinbold this year,” said Bell, whose best finish in the Indy 500 is fourth in 2009. “Robert Graham is a very unique partner. They bring a world-class luxury brand to the greatest race in the world. We have a great opportunity to put them in victory lane on May 24. The Robert Graham Special will once again sport a very distinctive look at IMS this May.

“We felt it was appropriate to salute Jeff’s tremendous career by running the number he’s made so famous. We will unveil a tribute to Jeff during May that the fans will enjoy.”

Bell also is a Verizon IndyCar Series analyst for NBCSN telecasts.

NFL great McGinest gets ride from Indy car great Andretti

Mario Andretti and Willie McGinnisWillie McGinest thrived for 15 years as a National Football League linebacker whose expertise was going fast and hitting the quarterback. When he strapped in behind racing legend Mario Andretti today a ride in the Indy Racing Experience two-seat Indy car around the 1.968-mile Long Beach circuit, he also wanted to go fast. But the last thing he wanted to do was hit anything.

“We run into people in football,” McGinest said with an ear-to-ear grin after stepping out of the car. “I didn’t want to run into anybody while we were going 100-some miles an hour. It was unbelievable. There’s no words that can describe what just happened to me. It was a legendary experience, to say the least.”

A Long Beach native, McGinest said he has ridden around the circuit in a parade truck before, but the two-seater with Andretti at the wheel was a totally new and unforgettable encounter.

Munoz has some fun on set of 'The Voice'

After an interview with Telemundo at the Universal Studios in Hollywood earlier this week, Andretti Autosport driver Carlos Munoz stopped by the adjacent studio, home of NBC’s popular “The Voice” singing talent competition.

A fan of the show, Munoz had fun in a replica judge’s chair, a staple of the show where judges Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Pharrell Williams sit with their backs to contestants during blind auditions.

Munoz was thrilled for the chance to practice pushing the button that turns the chair, a slightly less strenuous job than driving a Verizon IndyCar Series car on the streets of Long Beach.

Awards and such

Helio Cstroneves, the Verizon P1 Award winner, earned $10,000. … The race winner will receive an engraved TAG Heuer timepiece. … The entrant of the car in pit lane the shortest amount of accumulated time during each race will earn the $10,000 Firestone Pit Stop Performance award. The No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda Dallara crew of James Hinchcliffe won the award for the April 12 Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana with a total pit lane time of 35.066 seconds. … The entrant of the highest-finishing car in each race displaying an Xtrac emblem on each side of the attenuator will be awarded $2,000.

Of note

With Honda entries in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Pirelli World Challenge and the Tudor SportsCar Series at Long Beach, Honda Performance Development has 55 engineers at the site for trackside support. … Winter Olympian Alexandra Coletti of Monaco is attending the race to support her brother, KV Racing Technology driver Stefano Coletti. … Jack Harvey won the pole for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race with a lap of 1 minute, 12.0405 seconds. The 60-lap race is set to start at 11:45 a.m. (ET) April 19. ... Ryan Hunter-Reay will start fourth, his best qualifying effort since he also started fourth in both races of the Toronto doubleheader races in July 2014. "We’re making steps on this Honda aero package and I think we just keep chipping away at it like this and we’ll be able to close that gap," said Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport.