Kenseth responds with Richmond Cup pole

Leave a comment

Two days after his team was heavily penalized by NASCAR after its race-winning engine from Kansas failed inspection, Matt Kenseth set a new Richmond International Raceway track record and claimed pole for Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 on the 3/4-mile bullring.

Kenseth’s lap at 130.334 mph was enough to out-hustle Brian Vickers (subbing for the injured Denny Hamlin), Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer for P1. In an odd turn of events, Kenseth’s pole will put him in the running for the 2014 Sprint Unlimited exhibition at Daytona; he lost the Unlimited spot that he earned with his Kansas pole last weekend as part of the penalties that went against him and his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team this week.

“I’ve said it a million times, but this is just a really special group, and I’m a really lucky guy to be driving [this car],” Kenseth told SPEED Channel afterwards. “Really proud of these guys. After practice, I didn’t think we had a prayer of sitting on the pole, and one of my goals this week with everything going on was to go sit on the pole and maybe that would quiet things down a little bit…

“It always feels good when you can go out and win a pole, or even win a race, so the important thing tomorrow night is figuring out how to get this thing out front and be there at the last lap when it really counts. But yeah, the pole feels really good for all of us today.”

Kenseth was penalized 50 driver points and lost his bonus points for the victory in Kansas, while crew chief Jason Ratcliff was fined $200,000 and suspended for six races. Team owner Joe Gibbs lost 50 car owner points and had his owner’s license suspended for six weeks, which means he can’t gain points toward the owner’s championship in that period. Toyota also lost five points toward the manufacturer’s championship.

Juan Pablo Montoya, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Mark Martin will round out the Top 10 on the grid for tomorrow night’s 400-lap event. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will go off from 19th, defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski from 23rd, current points leader Jimmie Johnson from 27th, and Danica Patrick from 30th.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
1 Comment

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.