NNS Notes: Chase Elliott expects “normal Monday” back in class

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Tonight, Chase Elliott is on top of the NASCAR world. Come Monday, he’ll be back to hitting the books.

The 18-year-old Elliott, who claimed his inaugural Nationwide Series win late Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway, is a high school senior at the King’s Ridge Christian School in suburban Atlanta when he isn’t racing for JR Motorsports.

And while he says that his classmates know what he gets up to on the weekends, he figures that his return to King’s Ridge will be a “normal Monday.”

“Nobody likes Mondays, so I’m sure it’ll be the same ol’ deal – go and have a bunch of homework to do when I get back and [then] get ready to go to Darlington,” Elliott said after taking the checkered flag.

“…It’ll be a good feeling to go throughout the week with, but this race is over with. It’s definitely something to enjoy, but at the same time, we’ve got another race next Saturday night and we gotta make sure to get prepared for that.”

Nonetheless, we figure that Elliott’s friends at King’s Ridge are surely planning some sort of celebration. He said that he’s “fortunate” to have his particular group of pals, who according to him have attended some races and keep track of his progress on TV.

“I think most guys my age don’t have that when they go home,” he added. “They don’t have the people pulling for them, especially classmates and stuff. So that’s really cool to go home to and just have a really good group of friends. I’m looking forward to obviously seeing them Monday.”

Trevor Bayne entered Texas tied in points with Regan Smith for the Nationwide Series championship lead, but left 18 points back of Elliott in fifth place after a costly tire failure early in tonight’s race.

On Lap 42, Bayne’s right rear tire went down in Turn 2 before he spun out moments later in Turn 4. Bayne was able to keep his Ford Mustang off the wall but the car itself sustained damage as a result of the blowout.

Subsequent repairs, along with an additional pit stop for a tire rub, sent Bayne multiple laps off the pace of the leaders. He wound up finishing five laps down in 23rd place.

“It started getting really loose about Lap 25 into the run,” Bayne said. “I don’t know if the tire was leaking the whole time or if it just wore really bad, but going through one and two about two or three laps before that happened I said, ‘The right rear feels really bad,’ and then the next two laps, I said it again and again and then all of a sudden I lost it into [Turn 3].

“The tire didn’t explode, so I thought it just had a flat. I went to drive around because I didn’t want to lose my lap to [Kevin Harvick] and as soon as I got on the gas right past pit road, it blew apart, so I couldn’t get to pit road. Had we got to pit road, we could have salvaged our day, but at that point we lost so many laps trying to repair it.”

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.