IndyCar teams need to max limited track time in Detroit

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IndyCar goes to an abnormal schedule for this weekend’s Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans.  Here’s how the on-track schedule will break down:

Friday, May 31
11:10 a.m.-12:25 p.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series practice (all cars)
3-4:10 p.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series Race 1 qualifying for Verizon P1 Award. (Knockout qualifying/Firestone Fast Six)

Saturday, June 1
9:15-9:45 a.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series Race 2 qualifying for Verizon P1 Award. (Two groups)
3:50 p.m. – Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Race 1 (70 laps/164.22 miles), ABC (Live)

Sunday, June 2
9:30 – 10 a.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series warmup
3:50 p.m. – Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Race 2 (70 laps/164.22 miles), ABC (Live)

Friday’s on-track sessions may be rain-affected; scattered thunderstorms and a 60 percent chance of rain are projected there. Saturday has a worse forecast with severe thunderstorms possible and a 70 percent chance of rain.

The last wet IndyCar race was Baltimore last year, but that was only a mild sprinkle in the first third of the race. A titanic downpour at Sao Paulo in 2011 postponed the rest of the race to Monday after a soggy start.

Although no extra points are available for the doubleheaders – a maximum of 108 (two wins, poles, and most laps led) and minimum of 10 (25th twice) points can be earned – there is a special monetary bonus on offer for any team that sweeps a weekend.

SONAX, IndyCar’s new Official Automobile Detail Partner, created the SONAX Perfect Finish Award and will award $50,000 to a driver who wins both feature races during any of the doubleheader weekends. If a driver does not win both races in any weekend, the $50,000 prize will carry over to the next doubleheader weekend.

If a driver does not win both Detroit events, the award will jump to $100,000 in Toronto for a driver who wins both races. If no driver captures both features at Toronto, the SONAX Perfect Finish Award will be worth $150,000 at the Houston weekend.

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.