NASCAR Update: Bowyer, Kenseth lead Toyota charge at Richmond

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Fittingly enough, a pair of Toyota drivers have led the field for most of the night in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Clint Bowyer, who had three of his Michael Waltrip Racing engines recalled by Toyota Racing Development, is currently leading the way with pole sitter Matt Kenseth a steady second.

Bowyer managed to take the lead from Kenseth in the pits after caution came out for debris at Lap 109. He’s been able to keep the point up to halfway, but hasn’t been able to shake Kenseth, who’s out to win a second consecutive race for his beleaguered team.

The race has been relatively uneventful outside of Brad Keselowski hitting the wall on Lap 157 after his right front tire went down (he ran 20th at halfway). However, a sprinkler has gone off twice inside the frontstretch grass — the first time under the Keselowski caution, the second time during the subsequent green flag run.

Kurt Busch ran third at halfway, with Jimmie Johnson climbing from mid-pack to fourth and defending Richmond spring race winner Kyle Busch rounding out the Top 5.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond

Top 10 at Halfway (Lap 200 of 400)

1. Clint Bowyer

2. Matt Kenseth

3. Kurt Busch

4. Jimmie Johnson

5. Kyle Busch

6. Juan Pablo Montoya

7. Kevin Harvick

8. Jamie McMurray

9. Mark Martin

10. Martin Truex Jr.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
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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.