Bryan Clauson takes Chili Bowl victory

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Bryan Clauson took his overdue first win in the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals A-main on Saturday night in Tulsa, Okla. To do so, he had to hold off four-time defending champion Kevin Swindell and a host of other challengers on the dirt.

“I’m just really relieved I didn’t throw it away because these guys are really good,” said Clauson, via the official race website.

Clauson took the lead with an inside pass of Caleb Armstrong on the sixth of 55 laps, and wasn’t headed the rest of the way. Swindell, meanwhile, was locked in a battle with Christopher Bell and Rico Abreu for second; the three swapped the spot in the late stages of the race on a series of slide jobs before Abreu spun on Lap 48.

Bell ended third with Alex Bright and Dave Darland completing the top five.

Chad Boat made it to 10th place in the 24-car field by the finish while Kyle Larson’s charge from 15th into the top five was halted with an engine issue. Other NASCAR drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kasey Kahne and J.J. Yeley all competed in the preliminaries but failed to advance into the A-main.

Clauson has long been a star on dirt, and he was able to make his IndyCar debut in the 2012 Indianapolis 500, in a second car for the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team. He was also one of Chip Ganassi’s development drivers on the NASCAR side. His performance Saturday night, which was televised live on MAVTV for the first time, again made onlookers take notice.

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.