UPDATE: Pre-race ceremonies completed at Bristol

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UPDATE (2:43 p.m. ET): Pre-race ceremonies, including the driver introductions, invocation and national anthem, have been completed at Bristol Motor Speedway. It appears we’re ready to go racing in the Food City 500. Keep an eye on MotorSportsTalk throughout the afternoon for coverage.

UPDATE (1:46 p.m. ET): Good news for fans hoping to see the Food City 500 later today. The rain has apparently lightened up to the point where NASCAR has been able to deploy the Air Titan track drying system.

Hendrick Motorsports has passed along word that driver intros are now set to go off just after 2 p.m. ET…

Additionally, NASCAR officials have now made their way to Race Control – another good sign.

UPDATE (12:43 p.m. ET): Steady rains at Bristol Motor Speedway have delayed the start of today’s Food City 500 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Rain was falling early this morning and has continued to do so as we head into the afternoon. The 500-lap race was scheduled to begin just after 1 p.m. ET.

Bob Pockrass of the Sporting News reported that Bristol general manager Jerry Caldwell was hopeful that the track could catch a break in the afternoon.

And in a brief statement that’s just been released, Caldwell has reiterated that hope…

“At this time, the NASCAR Sprint Cup pre-race and Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway are on hold due to weather. There appears to be a mid to late afternoon window and we are hopeful to begin drying the track at that time for the running of the event. More information on http://www.bristolmotorspeedway.com as it becomes available.”

NASCAR policy states that a race becomes official when it goes past the halfway point – in this case, Lap 251 of 500. And once again, it should be noted that Bristol does have a lighting system and NASCAR’s Air Titan track drying system is on hand.

Yesterday, the track stated that they were ready to run the race at Noon ET tomorrow should today prove to be a total washout. Monday’s forecast in Bristol calls for a 60 percent chance of rain that tapers down to 40 percent by nightfall.

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.