NASCAR: Ryan Blaney tops lone Nationwide practice at Kansas

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A rainy morning at Kansas Speedway scratched what was to be the first of two scheduled NASCAR Nationwide Series practice sessions ahead of Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300.

Instead, the NNS contingent only had one, 80-minute session this afternoon on the 1.5-mile oval to prepare for their main event.

Ryan Blaney, who has done well this year in a limited Nationwide Series role for Team Penske while running full-time in the Camping World Truck Series, was fastest in the Penske No. 22 at 180.048 mph.

Blaney will make two more starts for Penske in the Nationwide Series this season at Charlotte and Texas in the No. 12 car.

But for this weekend, he’ll seek to help the No. 22 team retain its lead in the owner’s championship – currently at 32 points over Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 54 team with five races left in 2014.

“We just need to go out now and perform the rest of the year and be a part of another championship effort,” Blaney said of that effort earlier in the week.

“That’s important to [team owner] Roger [Penske], to the guys on the team, to [sponsors] Discount Tire and Hertz, and to the guys in the shop who build these cars. Over these next five races, that is the team’s focus.”

Behind him was Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher with the second-fastest lap at 179.880 mph. Richard Childress Racing rookie Ty Dillon was third-fastest (179.456), with last week’s NNS winner Kyle Busch (179.235) and Trevor Bayne (179.122) completing the Top 5 speeds.

The practice had one major incident involving Corey Lajoie, who got loose going through Turn 1 and 2 and slapped the wall in the No. 98 Biagi-DenBeste Racing Ford. The resulting right-side damage was enough to cause his team to call for a backup car.

Busch, Tanner Berryhill, and Dakoda Armstrong also spun, with said spins occurring both unassisted and in the Turn 2 vicinity (Armstrong lost control of his car on the apron). However, none of the three found the wall.

NNS qualifying will take place tomorrow at 12:15 p.m. ET, followed by the big show shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET.

NASCAR Nationwide Series at Kansas – Friday Practice Times

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.