MRTI Entry List update before the Christmas holiday

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It’s a good sign for the entirety of the Mazda Road to Indy that there’s as many confirmed seats as there are between the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Here’s a quick rundown of who’s signed where thus far:

Indy Lights

Juncos Racing – Spencer Pigot, Kyle Kaiser
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports – Ethan Ringel, R.C. Enerson
Andretti Autosport – Shelby Blackstock
Carlin Racing – Ed Jones
Belardi Auto Racing – Felix Serralles

Pro Mazda

Juncos Racing – Jose Gutierrez, Will Owen, Timothe Buret, Garett Grist
Andretti Autosport – Weiron Tan, Dalton Kellett
Cape Motorsports – Daniel Burkett
JDC Motorsports – Kyle Connery

USF2000

Cape Motorsports – Nico Jamin, Aaron Telitz
JDC Motorsports – Parker Thompson

Things to note from that list, given who’s signed and who isn’t thus far:

  • Americans, Americans, Americans. Of the seven drivers confirmed for Indy Lights thus far, five are Americans. Consider there has been usually only one or two full-time Americans in Lights per year over the last three-four years, and that’s great news for the future of IndyCar as it relates to churning out fresh American talent.
  • Latorre’s next move TBD. USF2000 champion Florian Latorre has not yet confirmed his team for his move up to Pro Mazda. It figures to be with Cape, as Scott Hargrove did a year ago, but that’s dependent on whether Cape retains either Hargrove or Neil Alberico for another season and confirms the second seat alongside previously announced Burkett.
  • Hargrove, Harvey close to deals? Scott Hargrove (8Star Motorsports) and Jack Harvey (Schmidt Peterson) have tested with those respective teams last week. Assuming either or both gets a deal done, they would only add to the caliber of the Lights field for 2015. The driver we’d also like to see with 8Star, if possible, is the team’s PC star driver in 2014, Sean Rayhall.
  • Cindric a wild card. Austin Cindric is only 16 but has driven a wide variety of machinery for his young age. He’s tested Pro Mazda, raced two years in USF2000, run a full year in Red Bull GRC Lites, sampled an Australian V8 Supercar, Pirelli World Challenge Ford Mustang Boss 302S, and just recently tested an ARCA car at Daytona. Cindric, as son of Team Penske president Tim, is an important asset to MRTI and is key to keep on the open-wheel ladder. We’ll see where he lands.

All told, exciting times for the MRTI with its current depth in fields – and it’s only December.

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.