What to watch for: IndyCar at Milwaukee (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN & Live Extra)

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A TIRE-ING SITUATION

Milwaukee’s flat corners and constant traffic are challenging enough in themselves, but tire degradation is also going to be something drivers must watch throughout this afternoon. Track position is always critical at Milwaukee, and looking after a set of Firestones will be important in maintaining spots up front. But if there’s a late caution, don’t be surprised if most choose to hit the pits and get fresh rubber ahead of the last sprint to the checkered flag. It worked for Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden in Iowa, after all.

CHAMPIONSHIP DASH TO FONTANA BEGINS

Three races. Three different types of tracks. Three weeks. It’s an ideal way to cap off what’s been another solid Verizon IndyCar Series championship battle, and this critical stretch begins today in Milwaukee. Will Power extended his lead over Helio Castroneves to five points with his pole run yesterday, but neither Team Penske driver has won before at this old oval. If one of them can change that today, it will mean a critical boost of momentum. Meanwhile, Hunter-Reay (third, -64 points) and Simon Pagenaud (fourth, -65 points) need to make sizable points gains today if they want to stay in the title picture.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING?

So far this Verizon IndyCar Series season, we’ve seen 10 different drivers claim victories: Will Power, Mike Conway, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, Ed Carpenter, Carlos Huertas, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sebastien Bourdais, and our most recent victor, Scott Dixon. Should another driver step up and take a win in these final three races of the season, it will tie an open-wheel record for most winners in a single season (the 2000 and 2001 CART campaigns each had 11 different winners). And as noted this past week, there’s a lot of quality drivers that are still winless in 2014…

ANDRETTI TEAM GOES FOR MILWAUKEE TRIFECTA

Since its Andretti Sports Marketing offshoot took over operations of IndyCar’s annual visit to Milwaukee in 2012, the Andretti Autosport team has claimed back to back wins at the famous speedway with Ryan Hunter-Reay. But after a sub-par qualifying session yesterday (Marco Andretti will lead the team from ninth on the grid), they’re gonna have to work hard today in order to claim its third consecutive win in Milwaukee. As for RHR himself, he’ll have to go off from 19th on a day that could well determine if he’ll be contending for a second IndyCar title.

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.