Petit Le Mans: Rebellion leads at halfway; Muscle Milk out (UPDATED)

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UPDATED (4:50 p.m. ET): The No. 6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03c has officially retired from the Petit Le Mans due to an overheating issue on the car that developed just before the race’s halfway point, opening the door for Rebellion Racing to successfully defend its 2012 Petit title.

“First of all, I have to say a very, very big thank you to all the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing crew – I mean, out of 10 races, you win eight, I think that’s pretty impressive, and a lot of it goes down to these guys in the pits, ” Muscle Milk co-driver Lucas Luhr told Fox Sports after the retirement.

“Today, unfortunately, we had an overheating problem and we had to stop, but we were in good shape. It’s not in our hands – sometimes, racing can be tough. But nevertheless, I thought we put up a good fight and a good show. It’s a shame the season ends like this, but sometimes, in racing you win and sometimes you lose. As a team today, we lose altogether.”

Romain Dumas was driving the No. 6 machine but at Lap 201 of the scheduled 394 laps, he pulled into pit road, where the Pickett Racing crew promptly took off the car’s engine cover to assess the situation. Eventually, the car was taken back behind the wall.

Prior to that point, Muscle Milk had maintained a slim one-lap lead on the Rebellion No. 12 Lola-Toyota, currently driven by Nick Heidfeld.

Extreme Speed Motorsports’ Scott Sharp (No. 01 HPD ARX-03b) led the P2 category at halfway, but suffered a setback in his bid to win the P2 driver’s championship after his team’s sister car, the No. 02 of Rob Bell, sustained suspension damage and went behind the wall.

Sharp’s rival in the P2 category, Level 5 Motorsports’ Scott Tucker, needs to finish first or second to lock up the title and held a six-point lead going into today’s race; Tucker is currently third in P2 with Ryan Briscoe in the No. 551 machine, who shortly before the five-hour mark was called for avoidable contact with the No. 91 Viper of Ryan Dalziel and was hit with a stop and hold plus 60-second penalty.

Respective class leaders at halfway also included:

GT – No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Nick Tandy)

Prototype Challenge – No. 25 8Star Motorsports ORECA FLM09 (Sean Rayhall)

GTC – No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Nelson Canache)

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.