Ganassi signs Dylan Kwasniewski as development driver

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18-year-old Nationwide Series driver Dylan Kwasniewski’s tough homecoming at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has ended well enough with the news that he’s been signed as a development driver for Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR program.

Kwasniewski’s debut at LVMS in yesterday’s Boyd Gaming 300 was marred by an incident in which a bump from Chris Buescher sent him into the wall on Lap 70. That ultimately relegated the Vegas native to a 24th place finish.

But surely today’s announcement of his alliance with Ganassi will take some of the sting out of that result.

“I am extremely happy right now and thrilled to be getting this opportunity with Chip and the whole team,” Kwasniewski said in a Ganassi release.

“I have wanted to do nothing but race for as long as I can remember so this is a dream come true. I look forward to being part of Chip’s organization and will hopefully be a key contributor to its future success.”

Ganassi, who already has one potential superstar on his Sprint Cup side with rookie Kyle Larson, appears to be equally high on Kwasniewski.

“This young man has impressed us from the moment we saw him,” he said in the same release. “His poise, skill and determination on the race track are remarkable for someone so young.

“I am really looking forward to seeing him grow as a driver with each increase of competition. I think Dylan has a big future ahead of him in NASCAR.”

Kwasniewski currently races in the Nationwide Series for Turner Scott Motorsports, which also ran Larson full-time in NNS last year.

With Kwasniewski’s new partnership with Ganassi, the obvious thing is to wonder what this news could mean for the future of the team’s veteran Cup driver, Jamie McMurray (who led yesterday’s final practice session for today’s Kobalt 400).

Fox Sports has relayed Ganassi’s comments on the matter:

McMurray currently runs 10th in the Sprint Cup standings after the first two races of the year.

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.