Kurt Busch tops again in second Cup practice at Pocono

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After leading yesterday’s first Sprint Cup practice and then qualifying fourth for Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400, Stewart Haas Racing’s Kurt Busch was quickest in this morning’s second Cup practice at Pocono Raceway with a lap of 178.859 miles per hour.

It’s been an uneven first season at SHR for Busch, who put himself into the Chase picture with a win at Martinsville but has been in the lower reaches of the Top 30 in the standings ever since.

But the Outlaw believes that things are picking up in the 41 garage.

“We’ve got a fast Chevy and that’s what it’s all about, putting yourself in position,” Busch told ESPN. “And [crew chief] Daniel [Knost] and all the guys back at the shop have been working hard. This year, we’ve been hot and even ice cold, so Daniel and the guys at the shop keep plugging away to find new things that will help my balance with the car.

“…It’s just a matter of each week learning and growing as a team, and we haven’t quite matured at the level we hoped we would. But here we are – we’re coming back around these tracks a second time and I’m feeling good about it.”

Following him was Richard Childress Racing’s Ryan Newman, who qualified a disappointing 21st but was second-fastest in Practice 2 with a lap of 178.430 mph. Newman currently sits 13th on the Chase Grid (+47 points over 16th place), but is still searching for his own regular season win that can get him over the top.

“[We had a] really disappointing day yesterday to be 21st…[But] we felt like we were really good in race trim yesterday and proved it again today,” Newman told ESPN. “I guess that’s all we’ve got left this weekend is race trim. We’ll see if we can have a good car tomorrow.”

Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano were quick once again in Practice 2, placing third and fourth respectively (Keselowski with a 178.398; Logano with a 178.232). Another SHR driver, Kevin Harvick, was fifth (178.211). Sunday’s polesitter, Kyle Larson, was 18th (177.434) on the time sheets.

Sprint Cup final practice will run later this morning at 11:30 a.m. ET.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT POCONO – SECOND PRACTICE TIMES

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.