Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick glad to see boss, teammate and friend Tony Stewart back in race car

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HAMPTON, Ga. – Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch are fully in support of their boss, Tony Stewart, being back in a race car this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“It’s going to be great to have our boss and teammate in the field,” Busch told host Claire B. Lang Thursday night on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Dialed In. “To have him and the heavy hearts that’s been around Stewart Haas Racing the last few weeks, back at the track and focused on making laps, that’s the best medicine for everybody.

“… His name is on the company’s logo. He’s our leader and it’s great to have him back in the car.

While Busch and other teammate Kevin Harvick did not hear from Stewart during his three-week seclusion and absence from NASCAR, Patrick was one of the few that had a brief communication with Stewart.

“I heard from him last weekend, telling me good luck and it was good to hear from him,” Patrick said Friday morning. “It’ll be good to have him back. Obviously, he is the namesake to our team name. We’ll be all on board to help him with whatever he needs, but he’s Tony Stewart, so I’m sure he’ll be fine.

“Obviously with it being such a tragic accident, it’s something to work through.”

Busch compared some of the emotions Stewart is going through as to military veterans experiencing post-traumatic syndrome. Busch works extensively with veterans during his non-racing time.

But Busch said having Stewart back at the track will be a boost of support for the overall organization. He also addressed the possibility that Stewart is still eligible to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“We’re just trying to get the staff back to normalcy this weekend,” Stewart said. “I’m glad it’s happening and we’re able to move forward. With the Chase around the corner, it’s great for Harvick’s team, my team and Danica still has a chance.

“And Tony, I don’t know how it’s all going to shake out with the rule of not qualifying and being eligible, but sometimes you just have to go out there and take the medicine. I’m glad that Tony has decided that it’s time to get back in the car. He’s the only one who could have made that choice.”

Added Patrick, “Trying to feel something normal again probably might feel good to him. But again, it was a tragic accident and there’s no timeline when you work through that.”

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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.