Simon Pagenaud confirmed at Team Penske in fourth IndyCar

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The first domino of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season has officially fallen.

Indeed Simon Pagenaud is making the move from Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports, to the reigning championship team.

Pagenaud is driving for Team Penske, in a new fourth car for Roger Penske’s operation. The team announced the news on Monday afternoon.

“Simon Pagenaud is a very talented, focused and determined driver,” Roger Penske said in a release. “We know how tough he has been to compete with over the last few seasons and we are very happy to welcome him to Team Penske starting in 2015. With Simon coming on board to join Will, Helio (Castroneves) and Juan (Montoya), we feel we have four drivers very capable of winning on any given weekend and four guys who are legitimate championship contenders.”

This puts him alongside champion and longtime nemesis Will Power for the second time in his career. The two were teammates when driving for Derrick Walker in the 2007 Champ Car season.

For Pagenaud, it’s a multiyear deal as he moves into IndyCar’s most successful team.

“Getting a chance to race for Team Penske is almost like a dream to me,” said Pagenaud. “I have always admired the team and everything that Roger Penske has accomplished in racing. I am so excited to become a part of Team Penske and I can’t wait for the 2015 season to start.”

No commercial partners or car numbers were named.

Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya are also set to return to the team.

For SPM, filling Pagenaud’s seat is not going to be an easy task. James Hinchcliffe and/or Justin Wilson could be available, and the team is also testing a number of young drivers this offseason.

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.