NASCAR: Ambrose quickest in 2nd Nationwide practice

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Preparing to go after his fourth consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series win at Watkins Glen International, Marcos Ambrose topped the second Nationwide practice this afternoon with a lap of 71.595 seconds.

Ambrose, the man that many believe can win in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race and earn a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, claimed Nationwide wins at the Glen in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

He’s making his first Nationwide start altogether since finishing seventh last year at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Behind Ambrose in Practice 2 was Brad Keselowski, who led Practice 1. Keselowski, who was last year’s Nationwide winner at the Glen, posted a lap of 71.986 seconds that was good for second on the time sheets.

Fellow Sprint Cup regulars Joey Logano (71.991) and Kyle Busch (72.132) were third and fifth respectively in the session, with Nationwide full-timer Brendan Gaughan going P4 between them (72.116).

During the session, rookie pilot Ryan Reed lost control of his No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford over the curbing at Turn 6 and slid hard into the tire barriers near Turn 7.

The impact sent him spinning multiple times before he came to a stop on the track. A caution was immediately thrown, and practice eventually resumed with about 15 minutes to go.

Reed’s team has rolled out the backup car for tomorrow’s Nationwide qualifying (9:40 a.m. ET) and race (2:15 p.m. ET).

Paul Menard, Dylan Kwasniewski, Chris Buescher, Regan Smith, and Matt Kenseth ended up in Positions 6-10. Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott was 13th.

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.