Time for mid-week races? Jeff Gordon thinks so

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With the NBA and NHL having completed its seasons and the NFL still about a month away from the start of its preseason schedule, there would seem to be an opportunity for NASCAR, IndyCar, or any other form of racing to gain new fans with the concept of mid-week races.

Count Jeff Gordon among the ones that like the idea. The four-time Sprint Cup champion spent his early career in the USAC ranks, where mid-week races are common. It also bears noting that NASCAR’s lower-level Camping World Truck Series is slated to run two Wednesday night events this season.

But in comments made to the Associated Press earlier this week, Gordon believes that NASCAR isn’t ready to consider the idea for its top-tier Cup category because of…well, one thing or another, apparently.

“It seems like every time I talk to NASCAR about doing a weekly race or one midweek, they say, ‘Oh well, if you do it on this day, you won’t get as many people coming to the track, so the track suffers,’ and ‘If you do it on this day, then maybe the track does well but then the people at home won’t watch it because of this,'” he said. “So it always seems to be some kind of obstacle.”

It must be said that Gordon isn’t advocating for the idea of mid-week racing to be a regular occurrence, but rather something that can perhaps surround a big event or a holiday to make it worthwhile – like the 4th of July for example.

There’s a reason why the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway was once called the Firecracker 400. From 1959 to 1987, NASCAR’s mid-summer return to Daytona always ran on July 4, regardless of the day of the week.

But from 1988 onward, the race was moved to the first Saturday of July, closest to Independence Day. Since then, Daytona’s 400-miler has only ran twice on July 4 (1992, 2009).

“I am not saying we need to do it every week, but if we could find the right week in the schedule and mix it up, make it special, and make it make sense for the fans at home as well as the ones that could attend, then I think it would be awesome,” Gordon said.

“I think July 4th might make sense because everybody is off on that day and looking for something to do. Of course, we are not off, but I think that is why it could work.”

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.