IndyCar prepares for long haul to Brazil

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The IZOD IndyCar Series’ annual trip to Brazil is always an adventure, and it all starts with the packing.

About 400,000 total pounds of cargo will be carried by two 747-400F planes to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the series will stage the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle next weekend. In addition, Firestone Firehawk tires, fuel and Dallara parts and equipment are being shipped over via ocean cargo vessel. When everything arrives in Sao Paulo, it’ll all be transported to the Anhembi Park complex that houses the 2.5-mile, 11-turn street circuit.

Each entrant is limited to 9,000 total pounds, and today at Indianapolis International Airport, the loading for the 5,000+ mile trip to South America began (the flight itself is slated for Sunday). After numerous trips overseas in recent years, the IndyCar teams are pros when it comes to having everything together.

“It’s a major undertaking to get everything packed,” Andretti Autosport team manager Ziggy Harcus told IndyCar.com. “And the paperwork side is another undertaking. Then you have the consumables — you have to make sure you take enough that you need but not waste it. We’re organized; we’ve done it quite a few times with Brazil and Japan.”

Amongst the cargo that’s shipped over via plane are the cars themselves, which are stacked up in twos on specially-made racks.

You can catch the Sao Paulo Indy 300 on Sunday, May 5 at 11 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network, or online and on your mobile device with NBC Sports Live Extra.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti 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. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. 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.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “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. 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.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.