April 01, 2016

AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) Shortly after being introduced at Andretti Autosport's fifth Indianapolis 500 driver Friday, Townsend Bell received a question from a luminary on the right side of the room.

''Are you sure this isn't an April Fool's joke?'' Mario Andretti asked him, drawing laughs from the room.

''I'm not sure,'' Bell responded. ''Guess I better show up tomorrow and find out.''

Bell has bounced around various racing circuits, including CART, IndyCar, American Le Mans and the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class in 2015.

He's been a regular at IndyCar's biggest race, though, making his 10th start in the past 11 years.

Bell has some good finishes at the Brickyard, too; a fourth with KV Racing Technology in 2009 and ninth with Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports in 2012. He was 14th with Dreywer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing last year.

''I'm thrilled to have another chance at Indy,'' said Bell, who works as a color commentator for NBC Sports in the IndyCar and Global Rallycross series. ''It's also always a privilege to be there, feel extra lucky to be there this year with Michael (Andretti) and Andretti Autosport. It's my best chance in with the best team in terms of pedigree at Indianapolis.''

Andretti Autosport has consistently run three cars at IndyCar's biggest race and was already set with its four regular drivers, 2014 Indy 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz and Alexander Rossi.

Andretti had been looking for a fifth driver and when Bell expressed interest, a deal was agreed upon quickly.

''We feel that having five cars at Indy really helps because it's that much more information you can share between drivers and teams and engineers,'' Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti said. ''We know how to do it and we know how to do it and it actually adds to the team.''

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