Expect IndyCar’s Hinch, RHR in Rolex 24 rides

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One of the highlights of the Rolex 24 at Daytona that kicks off the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season is the fact a healthy number of IndyCar and NASCAR stars can moonlight for a weekend in sports cars.

Expect Verizon IndyCar Series stars James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay to figure into the equation in some capacity, although not with the same teams they were in 2014.

Hinchcliffe has been with the SpeedSource Mazda team the last three seasons, but won’t be back with the SKYACTIV-D diesel LMP2 prototype for another year.

In the last three Rolex 24s, SpeedSource has campaigned the venerable but aging RX-8, the one-off Mazda6 diesel that struggled in its debut, and the P2 car last year for its first go – which wasn’t on pace but did at least last much longer in the race.

“It’s still TBD, but we have some things in the pipeline,” Hinchcliffe told MotorSportsTalk in an interview after his first IndyCar test with new team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

“The program is still up in the air, but I’m pretty confident will get something sorted. (Not having it be experimental) is something to take into consideration, and we’ll see how it pans out.”

SpeedSource has already confirmed a full-season lineup of team returnee Jonathan Bomarito alongside Tom Long, Tristan Nunez and Joel Miller, with team principal Sylvain Tremblay and Ben Devlin set for endurance races.

Hunter-Reay, meanwhile, could wind up anywhere given the SRT Motorsports program he drove for in the 2014 endurance races has closed its doors and withdrawn the pair of factory Dodge Viper SRT GTS-Rs.

“We’re working on our details for the Rolex and Sebring, and we should hopefully have some news on that soon,” he told MotorSportsTalk after seeing his face unveiled on the Borg-Warner Trophy. “It should be a busy January through March before the (IndyCar) season starts.”

As both are Honda-powered IndyCar drivers, there’s a shot that if another Honda-powered prototype was to enter the race besides the pair of Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-04bs, either could wind up there.

Hunter-Reay has also driven for Wayne Taylor Racing as its third driver in 2013, and finished second co-driving with Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli that year.

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.