Truex Jr., Edwards lead Friday practice at Watkins Glen

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A road course sweep in 2013 would be very helpful for Martin Truex Jr.’s chances of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Truex (pictured), currently in 14th in the Sprint Cup standings, is currently in one of the two Wild Card spots thanks to his win earlier this year at Sonoma Raceway in California. Another road course triumph this weekend at Watkins Glen International may be enough to put the New Jersey native into the post-season, and he started off strong on Friday by leading the first of two practice sessions at the Glen with a time of 69.319 seconds around the venerable circuit.

“Obviously, with what we did at Sonoma – road courses generally are ones that I always look forward to and generally, I’ve always felt better coming here than I did at Sonoma – [I’m] definitely excited and optimistic about the weekend and what we can do and [I] love racing up here,” said Truex on Friday at WGI.

“It’s a lot of fun. This race track is really unique – totally different than Sonoma – but a lot of fun to drive on and a lot of fun to race on and looking forward to having a great weekend up here.”

Carl Edwards could also have a say in the outcome if his own times on Friday are an indication. After going third-quickest in Practice 1, he then topped Practice 2 with a time of 68.693 seconds that would’ve been enough to break yet another track record.

Also enjoying a strong pace on Friday was Juan Pablo Montoya, who’s always a threat whenever the Sprint Cup circus hits a road course. The ex-Formula One standout was fourth in Practice 1 behind Truex, defending race winner Marcos Ambrose, and Edwards, then was fourth again in Practice 2 behind Edwards, Michael McDowell, and Clint Bowyer.

As for former Champ Car and current GRAND-AM pilot Max Papis, who has taken over the injured Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet this weekend, he was 27th-quickest in Practice 1 and 30th-quickest in Practice 2.

Qualifying for Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen is scheduled to go off tomorrow morning at 11:40 a.m. ET.

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.