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Veach Walks Away From Andretti Cockpit

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 24 2020

Zach Veach has taken himself out of his Andretti Autosport ride. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

By John Sturbin/Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Lame duck driver Zach Veach has opted to vacate his fulltime seat at Andretti Autosport, creating an immediate opening in the No. 26 Honda with three races remaining in the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season.

Veach is winless in 47 career series starts, including 11 during this COVID-19-impacted season, his third with the team owned by Michael Andretti. A graduate of the Road to Indy ladder program, Veach is the first driver to race on all levels with the same team (Andretti Autosport).

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in a team release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 INDYCAR season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step.”

A 25-year-old native of Stockdale, Ohio, Veach is in the midst of a miserable season. Veach posted his best start (fifth) and finish (fourth) in the COVID-delayed season-opener on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth on June 6. In 10 subsequent starts, he has qualified no higher than 13th (Mid-Ohio Race 2) and finished no better than 14th (INDYCAR Grand Prix).  He has led 17 laps this season and recorded two DNFs.

“I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years,” said Veach, who launched his INDYCAR career with single starts for Ed Carpenter Racing and A.J. Foyt Racing in 2017. “I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

A six-time winner in the Indy Lights Series, Veach has zero poles, wins or podium finishes in his 47 career INDYCAR starts. He has led a combined 23 laps over three-plus seasons, with an average start of 16.3 and finish of 15.7.

“We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person,” Andretti said in the team release. “His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character. Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

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For the first time in COVID-19-affected 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators will be allowed in the grandstands each day from Oct. 1-4, per approval of the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The 104th edition of the Indianapolis 500 was run on Aug. 23 at IMS without fans for the first time due to pandemic-related health concerns.

The Speedway, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the 2.5-mile oval, offering strong sightlines of the 2.439-mile/14-turn road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following: Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times; all fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry; grandstand seats will be marked for distancing and attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with Indiana and local health officials.

This event weekend will feature a Series doubleheader with races Friday, Oct. 2, and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event in pursuit of the champion’s Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25, at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The first INDYCAR race will air at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) Friday on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

The INDYCAR GP is a tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic of September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Attendees will be the first to experience a host of facility improvements, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms and 5G wireless connectivity.

The weekend also will see the first pairing of two major sports car series _ the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole-winner Ryan Briscoe is among drivers in the Indianapolis 8-Hour event scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 4. The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.

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Call it the Josef Newgarden Invitational. Nashville, Tenn. _ hometown of two-time/reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion Newgarden _ will play host to the inaugural Music City Grand Prix as part of a three-day international festival of speed and sound in the summer of 2021.

The newest series event will be staged Aug. 6-8, 2021 on a temporary circuit in downtown Nashville and around the Nissan Stadium campus that is headquarters of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.

The Music City Grand Prix is the first street course added to the series schedule since 2013. Nissan Stadium will serve as the paddock for a layout around a 2.17-mile/11-turn temporary track that will run across the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge into downtown Nashville and back, crossing over a major body of water. 

“The Music City Grand Prix will be a one-of-a-kind NTT IndyCar Series experience anchored in the heart of Nashville’s action-packed, exhilarating downtown corridor,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. “Urban street festivals have become a huge part of our DNA at INDYCAR, and this three-day festival _ complete with a course that pushes the limits _ will highlight everything Nashville and the sport have to offer.”

Newgarden, of Team Penske, trails five-time series champion Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing by 72 points with three races remaining in 2020.

Additional information, including the Music City GP schedules, artist lineup, food experiences and more, will be released at a later date. Visit www.musiccitygp.com for more details on the event, to sign up for Club RPM or become a Founder.

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NTT IndyCar Series point standings _ 1, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing, 456; 2, Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, 384; 3, Pato O’Ward, Arrow McLaren SP, 338; 4, Colton Herta, Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport, 327; 5, Will Power, Team Penske, 306; 6, Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, 301; 7, Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, 300; 8, Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske, 277; 9, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport, 260; 10, Santino Ferrucci, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan, 249.

UPDATED 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES SCHEDULE/RACE WINNER

Saturday, June 6 _ Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth (Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing)

Saturday, July 4 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course 1 (Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing)

Saturday, July 11 _ Road America Race 1, Elkhart Lake, Wis. (Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing)

Sunday, July 12 _ Road America Race 2, Elkhart Lake, Wis. (Felix Rosenqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing)

Friday, July 17 _Iowa Speedway Race 1, Newton (Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske)

Saturday, July 18 _ Iowa Speedway Race 2, Newton (Josef Newgarden, Team Penske)

Sunday, Aug. 23 _ Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing)

Saturday, Aug. 29 _ World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway Race 1, Madison, Ill. (Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing)

Sunday, Aug. 30 _ World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway Race 2, Madison, Ill. (Josef Newgarden, Team Penske)

Saturday, Sept. 12 _ Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Race 1, Lexington, Ohio (Will Power, Team Penske)

Sunday, Sept. 13 _ Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Race 2, Lexington, Ohio (Colton Herta, Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport)

Friday, Oct. 2 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course Race 1

Saturday, Oct. 3 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course Race 2

Sunday, Oct. 25 _ Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.



 

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 24 2020
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