Jimmie Johnson fastest in Dover Sprint Cup final practice

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Eight-time Dover winner Jimmie Johnson’s lap at 158.863 miles per hour was enough to top final practice for tomorrow’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway.

Johnson, who won at the Monster Mile last fall on his way to a sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup title, was followed by Sunday’s polesitter, Brad Keselowski.

The Team Penske driver was quickest in this morning’s practice and in the afternoon, his lap at 158.270 miles per hour was good for second.

Richard Childress Racing’s Ryan Newman was third-quickest (158.263), while Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin took his FedEx/Autism Speaks car to fourth (158.193). Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing was fifth (157.798).

“I feel like we’re close,” Hamlin told Fox Sports about his Toyota’s performance in ‘Happy Hour.’ “We’re not a winning car but we’re close to where the balance needs to be. We still need a tenth or two of speed, but when the balance is good and it feels good for me, we usually race pretty well.”

A.J. Allmendinger, Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard, and Kyle Larson completed the Top 10, and Harvick once again had the best consecutive 10-lap average (Laps 1-10, 156.378).


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.