Keselowski would welcome Castroneves IndyCar title for Penske

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Roger Penske has made a big splash with the signing of Juan Pablo Montoya to his IZOD IndyCar Series team for 2014, announced earlier Monday. But Penske, of course, can still win his first IndyCar title since 2006 this year with Helio Castroneves. The Brazilian currently leads the standings by 49 points over Scott Dixon with three races remaining.

Penske has the chance to win back-to-back titles, albeit in different series, for the first time since 2007 and 2008. Penske won back-to-back P2 class titles with its Porsche RS Spyder in the American Le Mans Series; Penske’s last back-to-back in open-wheel came in 2000 and 2001 with Gil de Ferran.

Brad Keselowski notched Penske’s first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship a year ago and discussed the possibility of what a Castroneves title could mean in 2013.

“He’s been close a lot of times but come up short for a variety of reasons,” Keselowski told me in a phone interview Saturday. “It would probably mean more to him than Roger. He’s won the Indy 500 and other things outside of racing, with ‘Dancing with the Stars.’

“It would be great to see him to get the championship accomplished, because it’s a different kind of accomplishment. You know it’s more about the season’s worth of work. I’d like to see him get that reward and see what it’s like to get that success from all his years worth of work.”

Additionally, Keselowski tweeted his welcome to Montoya for IndyCar on Monday.

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.