Want to race Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne or Kyle Larson? Mark Smoke’s wreck anniversary for charity

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August 5, 2013 will be a day Tony Stewart will never forget. It was in the evening that Stewart, competing in a sprint car race like he had done hundreds of times in his life, suffered the worst crash of his more than three-decade racing career.

Be it sprint cars, Sprint Cup or Indy cars, Stewart had never endured the kind of injuries he did that night, including multiple fractures of his right (driving) leg.

Right afterward, initial optimistic predictions had Stewart back racing within four to six weeks. Optimism turned to pessimism where he would in actuality miss the final 15 races of the Sprint Cup season.

He’s still not 100 percent today, 10 months later.

So how will Stewart mark the one-year “anniversary”?

Go racing, of course.

According to the Des Moines Register, one year and one day after Stewart’s horrific crash, he’ll be “celebrating” by competing in a charity go-kart race with a few of his NASCAR buddies in Knoxville, Iowa.

Joining Stewart will be Jeff Gordon, Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne.

(What, no Kyle Busch? He races anything and everywhere, doesn’t he?)

Stewart was slated to race in the same event last year (the inaugural race), but obviously couldn’t because of his wreck two days earlier. Larson was a late sub and wound up winning the event.

For this year’s second edition of the kart race, the first 50 individuals who contribute $300 to Kick-It, a charity that raises money for children’s cancer research, get a chance to race against Stewart, Gordon, Kahne and Larson.

That’s right, if you ever wanted to trade paint or rub fenders with any of those four Cup drivers, now’s your chance!

Just please don’t flip Tony’s kart and break his leg again, okay?

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

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.