Ganassi duo of Larson, McMurray left out of NASCAR post-season

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Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray were both unable to get the win they needed to enter the Chase for the Sprint Cup this Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.

Larson was one of four drivers that still could have made the Chase on points alone going into the Federated Auto Parts 400, but at 24 points behind the cutoff, he basically had to have a victory.

Instead, he finished 11th and missed the post-season by 16 points.

On multiple restarts, Larson would make up solid chunks of track position but ended up giving it back as the stints played out over the long run. He would usually settle in the 10th-12th range, and that’s where he ended up.

“Our Target Chevy was just outside of a Top 10 car, so I hate that we couldn’t get into the Chase, but we’ve been working hard all year,” Larson said. “I guess that’s the crappy part. But wins are important, so we’ve got to work on that next year to get some wins before the post season starts.

“I’m sure we’ll work hard for 2015 from here on out to try and get better and hopefully, it all pays off.”

His veteran teammate McMurray was one of 15 drivers that could only make the Chase with a win. He had a better night on the track than Larson did, but with Brad Keselowski basically stinking up the joint, there was no way the former Daytona 500 winner was going to get the result he needed.

McMurray would finish fourth behind Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, and Clint Bowyer, who lost out on the 16th and final Chase spot by a mere seven markers.

“Had a really good night, had a really fast car,” McMurray said. “The team did a good job. Our pit crew did an amazing job gaining of maintaining what we had.

“I thought at times there was a chance we could maybe get up there and contend for the win. But after the third or fourth stop, we just couldn’t make the car any better. We got to the best we could be, which was a third or fourth place car.”

In the case of the Ganassi men, both had late-season stumbles they may ultimately blame for them not being in the Chase.

Larson’s crash and 43rd place finish at Michigan a few weeks ago proved lethal to his hopes, while McMurray, who was already too far down the standings to make the Chase on points, was unable to close the deal at Bristol after dominating much of that outing.

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.