After poor qualifying, Kyle Busch rallies to finish 3rd

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Altogether, Kyle Busch felt well enough with his third-place finish in today’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, a fine result considering that he started 29th on the grid.

Busch took four tires ahead of the final restart under green-white-checkered but had to deal with the high line, which proved not to be the ideal place in the end.

“I was on the top lane, so it was dirty up there with the way the rubber lays out there during the run,” he said. “There wasn’t a long enough caution to get it cleaned up enough.

“Felt like we ended up where we should have anyway today, and we had a good car, so, nice to finish up like that.”

After starting in the back, Busch quickly moved toward the front and broke into the Top 10 by Lap 80. A green-flag cycle around Lap 90 eventually left him higher up in fourth spot, and the next green cycle around Lap 140 ended with him in the lead.

He wouldn’t stay there for long, however, as Jeff Gordon removed him from P1 on Lap 153. Busch would pretty much hover in the Top 5 for the rest of the day but had problems keeping the leaders in sight – until the yellow came out with two laps left for Kurt Busch’s tire failure.

“We had the second-to-the-last stint where we got behind a little bit on our adjustments, we were loose and I lost time to the leaders,” Busch said. “When we came in and pitted on that final green flag pit stop there, [crew chief] Dave [Rogers] and the guys made good adjustments.

“I was able to come back up and cut my deficit to the leaders probably in half, but I was probably so far behind I wasn’t going to get there. Then, the caution came out. Chaos ensues on a restart…You fight for everything you can.”

Joe Gibbs Racing got two of its drivers in the Top-10 today, with Busch finishing third and Matt Kenseth climbing from 26th to finish a quiet but solid seventh. Denny Hamlin led the race during the middle stages but suffered a pit road speeding penalty during the Lap 140 green cycle; he was unable to completely recover, finishing 13th.

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.