Watkins Glen update: Ambrose leads as red flag flies for Lap 40 crash

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Pole sitter Marcos Ambrose has lived up to expectations today, leading 30 of the 41 laps run so far in today’s Sprint Cup event at Watkins Glen International.

The race is currently under a red flag after a five-car incident in the esses at Lap 40 that saw Ron Fellows get into the quarter-panel of Travis Kvapil to send him spinning. In the ensuing stack-up, Tomy Drissi and Victor Gonzales also collided with each other, while Landon Cassill took some damage to his own car as well.

Drissi and Gonzales’ mangled cars left behind a large amount of oil and fluids on the track, which caused NASCAR to throw the red for an extensive clean-up. The field has come to a halt at the “bus stop” chicane as safety workers tend to the situation in the esses.

Two laps before the incident, Ambrose had re-taken the lead shortly after a restart at Lap 38. Race leader Kevin Harvick held off Ambrose through the esses, but was unable to keep both the Australian and Kyle Busch back in the “bus stop” and fell to third.

With the race under red, it’s Ambrose, Busch, Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., and A.J. Allmendinger as your Top 5.

Earlier in the race, Jeff Gordon – one of the key figures in the Race to the Chase – hit the inside backstretch wall on Lap 14 after bouncing off the outside wall while coming out of the esses. The winless Gordon came into today’s event ninth in the standings, but will more than likely fall out of the Top 10 with this crushing setback.

“I got a big run on the 11 [Denny Hamlin], and I got up on him and the nose just completely took off,” Gordon told ESPN after being released from the infield care center. “It put me in the wall, put me in the grass and from that point on, I was just a passenger. We’ll get it fixed, get out there and ride around.

“That’s the penalty for making a mistake like that. You have to go out there and drive something like I’m getting ready to drive around there all day, and we pay the price in the points. So, on to next week.”

Gordon has since returned to the track and now runs in 42nd place, 23 laps down.

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.