Honda teams reign this weekend in Chevy’s backyard

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Last week, Chevrolet took over the Indianapolis 500. But this weekend on its home turf in Detroit, the Bowtie came undone.

Honda struck back hard after Chevy’s 1-2-3-4 finish at the Brickyard, as they came away with five of six possible podium positions during this weekend’s Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit doubleheader at Belle Isle Park.

They got wins from both Mike Conway and Simon Pagenaud (pictured), as well as an additional third-place result from Justin Wilson on Saturday and second and third-place efforts from James Jakes and Conway on Sunday.

Pagenaud, in particular, has been something of a Honda “lifer.” He has raced with the manufacturer in some way, shape or form since 2008, when Gil de Ferran hired him as his co-driver of his Acura prototype on his sports car team in the American Le Mans Series.

“Honda are famous for making great race engines,” Pagenaud said. “That’s what they did at the Indy 500; they came back very strong. I think they understood how the engine is working a little bit better at Indy, and it’s paying off here in Detroit.

“It’s very sweet for them to win in General Motors’ city, but I want to thank GM for putting on this event,” he added, graciously. “It’s great to have promoters and partners. I wouldn’t bash them at all. But I’m definitely proud of Honda’s work and proud to be part of the family.”

The second Dual race was especially massive for the manufacturer, as they covered the entire Top 5 with Pagenaud, Jakes, Conway, Scott Dixon in fourth and Dario Franchitti in fifth.

“This one is for Honda,” said Jakes after claiming his best career IndyCar finish. “Three Hondas on the podium in Detroit again. They’ve really worked their butts off since Indy, and we’re proud of them.”

The best result that the Chevrolet camp could come up with on Sunday was a sixth-place effort from Marco Andretti, who is now tied with Helio Castroneves for the championship lead.

Both of them, along with Ryan Hunter-Reay (who finished second on Saturday for Chevy’s lone podium of the weekend), make up the top three in the standings. That may give the group a small measure of consolation after being beaten in their backyard for the second year in a row; in 2012, Honda-powered drivers Dixon, Franchitti and Pagenaud locked out the Belle Isle podium.

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.