IndyCar notes: Rahal’s engineering change, Tagliani’s beaver costume

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The IZOD IndyCar Series is in the midst of a needed – if perhaps ill-timed – break after a stretch of nine races in nine weekends, with only one off weekend (June 28-30) in-between the end of May and July 12-14 in Toronto.

So while news is at a bit of a crawl, there’s still a few other tidbits to note:

  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has made a not unexpected engineering change to Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Dallara-Honda. Gerry Hughes has been reassigned to be the team’s Head of Development, with ex-Dragon Racing hand Neil Fife stepping in as Rahal’s new engineer. The team has also added Mitch Davis as crew chief to prepare both Rahal’s and James Jakes’ entries. Jakes will continue with engineer Eddie Jones. Both teams have struggled to nail the setup this season, with only sporadic leading pace and results.
  • Alex Tagliani in a beaver suit? Believe it. The affable Canadian of Barracuda Racing will don a beaver costume and ride around the Indiana State Fair on a tricycle after a two-week online charity fundraiser versus Scott Dixon. Tagliani raised nearly for $6,000 Anaphyaxis Canada, an organization that helps people with life-threatening allergies, in the Power of 2 initiative. He was second to Dixon’s $7,036, which was raised for two groups that focus on cancer-stricken young people (CanTeen and Teens Living with Cancer). More details here from the official IndyCar website.
  • WIX Filters will join the joint DRR – SH Global Rallycross effort at the 2013 X Games in Los Angeles. The program was announced in June but driver and car details have yet to be determined for the IndyCar team that’s currently on hiatus from full-time participation.  

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.