Report: Montoya to drive for Penske at Brickyard 400?

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Former Indianapolis 500 and CART champion Juan Pablo Montoya has switched back to open-wheel racing, but before the Verizon IndyCar Series season started, it was indicated repeatedly that his NASCAR career may not be over.

During Montoya’s IndyCar test at Sebring last November, Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said that the Colombian had “unfinished business” in a stock car and that Penske might put him in a stock car “at the right time.”

Then, during this February’s Daytona Speedweeks, Montoya himself said that he thought running in the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway “would be a good thing.”

Now it appears that we may be close to knowing what stock car plans, if any, Montoya has in the near-future.

Earlier this morning, Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press tweeted the following:

Later on this afternoon, Lee Spencer of Motorsport.com reported that, in addition to an expected Brickyard announcement for Montoya, he could also drive a third car for Team Penske when the Sprint Cup Series makes their road course stops at Sonoma in June and Watkins Glen in August.

Sonoma is where Montoya earned his first Cup win in 2007, and three years later, he got his second Cup win at the Glen.

But as he talked about in February, Montoya especially wants to win the Brickyard after coming close twice in his seven-year Cup run with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Montoya finished second in the ’07 Brickyard to Tony Stewart, but led 116 laps in the ’09 edition only to have his bid for victory foiled by a late pit road speeding penalty; he finished 11th that day.

Last year, he almost got his first Cup win on an oval in the Richmond spring race until a caution came out with five laps to go. Subsequent pit stops left him sixth for the Green-White-Checkered restart, and he could only rise up to fourth by the end.

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.