Texas Motor Speedway strikes again with “Angry Birds” sign

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Texas Motor Speedway has been known to utilize on-track confrontations as part of promoting their races. For example, at their most recent Sprint Cup race this past spring – which came a few weeks after Tony Stewart and Joey Logano’s well-publicized shoving match at Auto Club Speedway – the track decided to stick a boxing ring in the infield that came complete with two pairs of gloves and a sign indicating the ring was “reserved for post-race use only.”

Now, as the IndyCars set up shop this weekend at the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth, the TMS gang is at it again with an infield banner (pictured, photo credit: @JennaFryer) that features Team Penske’s Will Power and Dragon Racing’s Sebastian Saavedra both extending their middle fingers. It also comes with a message: “Warning: Wild Asphalt Circus Can Cause Angry Birds.”

If you’ve been watching the series for a while, then you can probably figure out where TMS got the images of Power and Saavedra from. In perhaps the most lasting moment from the IZOD IndyCar Series’ short-lived return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway two years ago, Power delivered his double-barreled salute to Race Control after they opted to restart the race in wet conditions. That led to a multi-car accident, which collected the Australian driver and caused him to shoot the birds on national television.

Saavedra made the same gesture (also caught on TV) toward Marco Andretti last weekend during the first Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit race last Saturday after the third-generation driver nudged him into the tire barriers, ending his day. The Dragon pilot has since been hit with a $30,000 fine and is now on probation for the rest of the season.

At least one IndyCar driver has commented on the banner: Ryan Hunter-Reay called it “hilarious” while linking to it on his Instagram account.

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.