Devastation for ‘Dinger in Detroit

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Devastation. That’s the only word to describe the weekend in Detroit for Roger Penske’s open-wheel reclamation project, AJ Allmendinger.

Allmendinger starred in his Indianapolis 500 debut, but a week later on the streets of The Raceway on Belle Isle, Allmendinger may have had his worst ever weekend as a professional driver.

Attempting to thread the needle between Scott Dixon and Justin Wilson on the first lap on Saturday ended with Allmendinger instead going airborne, launching over Dixon’s rear wheel guard and into the concrete barrier at Turn 4.

Sunday was worse. With a sore thumb after the first incident, Allmendinger, in a backup car, got loose on exit of the left-handed Turn 2 and smacked the wall. That ended the race on the first lap for the second day running.

Allmendinger had the extra pressure of running the No. 2 Quicken Loans-sponsored Chevrolet for Penske. His owner promoted the race, and his sponsor was the presenting race sponsor.

“I can’t say sorry enough to @penskeracing and @quickenloans for this weekend… my mistakes are embarrassing and that is an understatement,” Allmendinger wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “I’m grateful for Roger and @penskeracing for their trust and support of me. I never want to repay them like this. Sorry to all my crew guys for making them work so hard for nothing. I’m so sorry. Not sure where to go from here. Feel like I just need to get away for a few weeks.

“Thank you to my family, friends and fans for the support and kind words. @detroitgp was a great event. Nothing more I can say. Also a congrats to my teammate @h3lio being tied for the points lead and sorry for @12WillPower he had an awesome drive till he was wrecked.”

Allmendinger doesn’t have any more scheduled open-wheel starts for Penske. Besides Indianapolis, he also raced at Barber and Long Beach earlier this year. They marked his first open-wheel races since 2006.

On Saturday, Penske announced he’d run Allmendinger in a handful of NASCAR Nationwide Series road course events.

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.