Buddy Lazier, Lazier Partners team return to Indianapolis 500

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Long rumored but not officially confirmed until Thursday, the Lazier Partners Racing team will return to this year’s Indianapolis 500, with 1996 race champion Buddy Lazier driving the No. 91 University of Iowa Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research Chevrolet.

After a four-year hiatus from the track, and five from the field, Lazier returned in 2013. He’s likely going to be the oldest driver in the field at age 46 and is one of now six past ‘500 winners set to qualify for the 2014 race (Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Kanaan, Jacques Villeneuve).

The new sponsorship is owing to wanting to raise awareness for this institute. The research center specializes in engineering cures for rare, inherited retinal diseases. In 2013, Stephen Wynn, the chairman and chief executive officer of Wynn Resorts, Limited and who suffers from a rare eye disease, committed $25 million to aid the research on the UI campus.

Jacqueline Lazier, the 12-year-old daughter of Buddy and Kara Lazier, was born with a rare eye disorder called Aniridia, which is characterized by a complete or partial absence of the colored part of the eye (the iris). Aniridia can cause reduction in visual acuity (sharpness) and increased sensitivity to light. The Aniridia, combined with glaucoma, has caused Jacqueline to lose vision in her right eye.

Buddy Lazier’s father Bob said this year’s effort has had much more lead time than last year’s, which came together barely a month before the race in their hometown of Vail, Col.

“It took a monumental effort in 2013 to organize the team in such a short period of time and make the race,” the elder Lazier said. “Now, we’ve had an entire year to organize the team, and we have raised the expectations for this year’s Indianapolis 500.”

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.