Ky. Speedway GM: I could see IndyCar coming back

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Kentucky Speedway has been off the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule for a couple of years now, but it appears that the track’s general manager, Mark Simendinger, is open to seeing the series return to his 1.5-mile oval outside Cincinnati.

According to Kevin Kelly of The Cincinnati Enquirer, Simendinger touched on the subject in a “town hall” session with fans during the track’s “Fan Day” this past weekend.

“I would see them coming back at some point in time,” said Simendinger. “I’m not sure when that point in time would be, because that’s a series that’s kind of working on its mix of ovals versus road courses and they’ve got a management change there.

“They’re dealing with kind of the economic model of what their races are going to be and how much money they’re going to charge tracks and all that kind of stuff. So I think that stuff has to get worked out, but I could see the IndyCar Series coming back here.”

Following a 12-year run, IndyCar departed from Kentucky Speedway after the 2011 race, which saw Ed Carpenter claim his first career victory over Dario Franchitti by .0098 of a second — the sixth-closest finish in series history. The track currently hosts all three of NASCAR’s national series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck) as well as the ARCA stock car series.

Considering that IndyCar only carries six ovals on the docket, it could use another speedway or two for more of a balance with the road and street circuits. However, one would assume that a title sponsor would be critical, if not essential, in bringing the series back to Kentucky; the 2010 and 2011 events there did not have one. In addition, attendance issues that plagued the race’s final years would have to be addressed as well.

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.