Herbalife, a global nutrition and direct-selling company, will serve as the primary sponsor for the #99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports/Chip Ganassi Racing entry in the Indianapolis 500 driven by Townsend Bell, it has been confirmed.
Bell returns to the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing' in the bright green Herbalife SSM/CGR car after recording a fourth-place finish in 2009.
Bell, the 2001 Indy Lights champion, started 24th in last year's event and drove his way through the field to score his highest Indy 500 finish. He also finished 10th at Indy in 2008 and was the fast qualifier on the second day of time trials. Bell will be making his fourth Indy 500 start on May 30.
"Teaming up with Townsend again and the strong team of Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing gives the Herbalife team a great chance to get to the winner's circle this year," said Herbalife chairman and CEO Michael O. Johnson. "Townsend is a talented driver and a terrific athlete who personifies our message of living an active, healthy life. Millions of Herbalife independent distributors around the world are rooting for him."
The SSM/CGR connection was established in 2009 when Alex Lloyd drove the #99 to a 13th-place finish. Sam Schmidt Motorsports has qualified nine entries in the Indy 500 since 2001 with driver Richie Hearn recording a team-high sixth in 2002.
"Bringing Herbalife on board for this year's Indy 500 is very exciting for our effort in 2010," said team owner Sam Schmidt, a three-time Firestone Indy Lights champion team owner. "A worldwide nutrition company such as Herbalife gives our SSM/CGR program a strong foundation to prepare a winning machine for Townsend. Again partnering with Chip's operation puts us in a position to qualify well and race for the ultimate motorsports prize, the Indianapolis 500. We have an excellent team led by Chris Griffis and I am very proud to enter a solid effort for the Indy 500."
Bell has international racing experience in addition to his North America open-wheel competition. The San Francisco-born driver competed in the 2003 International Formula 3000 series, finishing in the top 10 on six occasions in 10 events. His best finish was third at Hungaroring. Later in 2003, Bell tested for the F1 team, British American Racing, before returning to the IndyCar Series.
"With the announcement of Herbalife as our team's primary sponsor for the 2010 Indy 500, we have all of the elements to produce a winning effort," Bell added. "Teaming Herbalife with two championship operations, Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing, gives this programme a tremendous combination to race for the victory. After last year's limited schedule at Indy, I am confident about the Herbalife team's chances when practice runs open on May 15."