Power tops Practice 2, Friday overall at Mid-Ohio

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Team Penske’s Will Power, still seeking to grab his first win of the 2013 season, turned in a lap of 1 minute, 5.4332 seconds in the Friday afternoon practice session for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

His hot lap on Friday was more than two-tenths of a second quicker than his pole-winning lap time from one year ago at M-O, and was just a shade slower than the track qualifying record of 1 minute, 5.347 seconds – shared by Dario Franchitti (August 1999) and Gil de Ferran (August 2000).

“We got a good time in at the end – a few mistakes during the session but we’re narrowing it down,” Power said. “I’d love nothing more than to get on the pole here and have a chance to win a race. But good so far, and we’ll keep working hard.”

Scott Dixon improved upon his time in Friday’s first practice session, and found himself second overall at the end of the day with a time of 1 minute, 5.4469 seconds. Defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was third-fastest (1 minute, 5.5018 seconds) on the combined sheets, followed by Franchitti in fourth (1 minute, 5.7019 seconds) and Barracuda Racing rookie Luca Filippi (1 minute, 5.7364 seconds) in fifth.

During this afternoon’s activities, Filippi spoke with the media about his opportunity to drive Barracuda’s No. 98 Honda this weekend. When asked about the expectations he and his team both have for himself, the Italian stated that there’s been no added pressure put upon him.

“…I’m a racing driver. I feel that it’s a competition and the biggest pressure comes from myself and the biggest expectation is the one I personally have,” he said.

“I know that these guys are fast and these guys are tough to beat. I’m not expecting anything special, but I have my goals in my mind and I still need to work between today and tomorrow to get closer.”

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.