Continental Tire deal the latest detail to emerge from USCR merger process

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Continental Tire will play a major role in “#TheFuture,” of both United SportsCar Racing and the aptly named Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

The tire manufacturer was confirmed Wednesday as exclusive supplier to three of the four USCR classes, Prototype (P), Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD). The GT Le Mans category (GTLM) will remain as an open-tire specification to allow for open competition. Additionally, Continental’s exclusive supply to the supporting CTSCC ranks as both tire partner and title sponsor was confirmed.

This isn’t a huge surprise but it means a couple things. First, the existing American Le Mans Series P1 and P2 teams, who run on either Michelin or Bridgestone tires, would need to be able to adapt Continental Tires to whatever car they choose to run in USCR. The P1 class has been eliminated for 2014, and some tests have been performed with P2 cars on Continental rubber.

Secondly, it will likely prevent any European P2 teams, who run on either Dunlop or Michelin rubber, from racing in any USCR endurance events.

Continental currently supplies tires to ALMS PC and all of GRAND-AM’s classes in both the Rolex and CTSCC championships.

The specifications for the merged USCR championship, which will fuse the ALMS and GRAND-AM Rolex Series for 2014, have begun to emerge this month. Driver ratings, pit/paddock regulations and procedures were revealed on July 12. On July 19, further information about class specifications and available cars was announced.

The next major hurdle for the series is a 2014 schedule reveal. Several dates have been leaked by tracks expected to join the calendar (Daytona, Sebring, Petit Le Mans and most recently, Indianapolis).

From conversations, some series insiders are rather anxious about the number of races given the timeline for finalizing 2014 budgets is happening now. Meanwhile, USCR officials have continually stressed the nature of what a long process it is to pare down 22 races at 17 tracks from 2013 into either 10 or 11 races for 2014.

Ideally, a schedule needs to be revealed in August, if not by Labor Day weekend at Baltimore for the ALMS at the absolute latest.

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.