Harvick, Keselowski fastest in second Cup practice at PIR

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Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski continued to be practically joined at the hip, finishing 1-2 in Saturday morning’s second of three weekend Sprint Cup practices at Phoenix International Raceway.

In Friday’s first practice session, Harvick was fastest and Keselowski was third-fastest.

In qualifying Friday afternoon, Keselowski earned the outside pole, while Harvick was third.

And in Saturday’s second practice, Harvick and Keselowski were the only two drivers to surpass 138 mph around the one-mile track.

Talk about close: Harvick was just .016 of a second faster than Keselowski, the former at 138.403 mph, the latter at 138.387 mph.

As for the other six Chasers, Jeff Gordon was sixth-fastest (137.336 mph), Matt Kenseth was 10th (137.221), current Sprint Cup points leader Joey Logano was 12th (137.028), Sunday’s pole sitter Denny Hamlin was 20th (136.737) and Ryan Newman was 25th (136.364).

Carl Edwards continued to hunt for speed, being the slowest Chaser, clocking in at 29th-fastest of the 41 cars that took to the track. Edwards’ best lap was 135.967 mph.

As for other drivers:

Kurt Busch didn’t let Friday’s news about his alleged involvement in a domestic abuse case affect him behind the wheel, recording the third-fastest speed in Saturday’s practice at 137.762 mph.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fourth-fastest (137.588), followed by Tony Stewart (137.336), Kyle Larson was seventh (137.295), followed by Kyle Busch (137.253), Casey Mears (137.226), Paul Menard was 11th (137.044), Martin Truex Jr. was 13th (137.018), followed by Clint Bowyer (136.877), Kasey Kahne (136.789), AJ Allmendinger (136.752) and Texas winner Jimmie Johnson was 19th-fastest (136.742).

The third and final session – Happy Hour – takes place from 2:30 to 3:20 pm ET/12:30 to 1:20 pm MT.

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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.