Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier trying to bounce back after missing Talladega

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Last weekend’s topsy-turvy qualifying session at Talladega Superspeedway left full-time Sprint Cup drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier out of the race.

Obviously, they’re both looking to put that behind them this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. They had no issues in qualifying Friday; Stenhouse will start Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 in 18th, while Allgaier will roll off 22nd.

In a NASCAR.com piece, Stenhouse insisted that he and the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing team have learned from what occurred at Talladega.

“I learn real quick of things to do and not to do,” said Stenhouse, who adds that he ended up watching the race from his motorhome with some pizza and a Coke. “Sitting there watching races, especially long Cup races, makes you sit there and think about everything you need to do, whether it be get more focused and help the guys at the shop on our team more to figure out what we need to do to make our Fords fast again like they need to be.

“[I’ve] spent some time with my guys about already looking ahead to next year at the things we need to do differently so we’re not in the circumstances we are (in) right now in terms of being further back in points and not running as well.”

Stenhouse’s girlfriend and on-track rival, Danica Patrick, revealed yesterday that she was angry enough over the qualifying format used at Talladega to vent her frustrations in person at the NASCAR hauler – partly, according to her, because of her beau missing the show and partly because she felt it could have been her in that position.

In that same press conference, Patrick said that Stenhouse had initially wanted to go home after the DNQ.

“As much as a girlfriend [that] I wanted him to stay and be there, I was like ‘I get it, if you want to go home – go home. I get it,'” she said. “He wanted to ride the tractor all day and not even watch the race, which kind of for a second made me go, ‘Oh, then you won’t watch. I get it.’ I wouldn’t want to watch either if I was in that scenario, so I really understood where he was coming from.”

However, Stenhouse ultimately stayed to take care of sponsor commitments at the track.

Meanwhile, Allgaier was equally stunned to miss Talladega (according to USA Today’s Jeff Gluck, a reporter broke the news to him before he got official word from his HScott Motorsports team). But he’s hopeful that better times lie ahead at Martinsville.

“We had a tough weekend at Talladega, and the best cure for that is getting back in the car,” the Cup rookie said this week.

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.