Drag racer Ron Capps doesn’t let hurricane stop Hawaii appearance

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When you drive a car that produces nearly 10,000 horsepower and reaches speeds approaching 330 mph, a hurricane with wind speeds over 100 mph is nothing.

That was the case Sunday for NHRA Funny Car driver Ron Capps.

The veteran racer makes a yearly goodwill trip to the Hawaiian islands to check out a very robust drag racing scene there, meet with fans and fellow racers and enjoy the normally great weather.

While the weather didn’t exactly cooperate Sunday, with Hurricane Ana threatening the islands, Capps still went ahead with his first-ever appearance on the island of Kauai.

And just like Capps, drag racing fans on the island didn’t let the weather deter them from seeing one of the NHRA’s biggest stars, showing up in force at PS&D Napa Auto & Truck Parts store in Lihue.

“We were not going to cancel the appearance,” store owner Gail Shigematsu told the Garden Island newspaper. “We worked hard for this.

“For several years, we wanted him, but couldn’t get him. Now, he cancelled his Maui appearance and is going to be on the Big Island. We were not going to cancel.”

The local Garden Isle Racing Association (GIRA) had been trying to get Capps to visit Kauai for several years and finally succeeded this year.

In turn, Capps helped the association’s fund-raising efforts, including autographing and auctioning off a the shirt he wore in his 43rd career win at this year’s rain-delayed Brainerd (Minnesota) race.

Because of the weather and scheduling, the final round of the Brainerd race was relocated and held the following week prior to the U.S. Nationals in suburban Indianapolis.

By the time Hurricane Ana neared the Kauai coastline, it had been downgraded to a tropical storm, but still brought heavy rains and a flash flood watch in its wake.

But that didn’t keep the hearty drag racing fans from turning out en masse.

“With this kind of response, hopefully, he’ll see it in his heart to come back and visit again,” Shigematsu said.

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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.