TUSC: Muscle Milk to run Nissan-powered ORECA LMP2 car

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Muscle Milk Pickett Racing has announced that it will field a Nissan-powered ORECA 03 LMP2 machine for its Prototype effort in this year’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

Additionally, the team will bring back its championship-winning duo of Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf to drive the new car. Luhr and Graf finished off their run in the American Le Mans Series this past year by winning a second consecutive P1 class title for the team.

“After winning the last two P1 Championships in the American Le Mans Series, it was important for us to choose a partner for our new adventure into the TUDOR Championship, that can help us continue, and build on, the success we’ve known so far,” team owner Greg Pickett said in a statement.

“Our success the last couple of years was only made possible by our commitment to work closely and collaboratively with our friends and partners at HPD, Wirth Engineering and Michelin. Although we will miss working with them, our commitment to ORECA will be exactly the same.”

Luhr and Graf’s first run with their new ORECA will take place at the “Roar Before the Rolex 24” test sessions from Jan. 3-5, 2014 at Daytona International Speedway.

“We looked very hard into what would be the best way to move forward for us and the ORECA 03 LM P2 with a Nissan engine was the one to have in the past and I’m pretty confident that it will be the same in the future,” Graf said. “It has won many races and hopefully we can win many more.”

As for ORECA founder Hughes de Chaunac, he is hopeful that this is just the first step in bringing more of his company’s 03 machines into the TUSC.

“The United States is a special place for us and the [TUSC] represents a thrilling new chapter,” he said. “Our goal is clear: Win the classics like Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans as a constructor. We are working to have other ORECA 03 entries on track in North America, alongside the numerous ORECA-FLM09 cars already present in Prototype Challenge.

“I can’t wait to see our prototypes race at Daytona, 14 years after our overall victory with the Viper. It’s a new step in the Group’s development in the USA.”

Since its debut in 2011, the ORECA 03 has won 18 times across the FIA World Endurance Championship and the European Le Mans Series.

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.