Times, comfort level improve on second day of Indy Lights test

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The second day of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires testing is in the books from Palm Beach International Raceway. Times improved and the eight drivers raved about the conditions, and the new Dallara IL15 chassis partnered with the Mazda MZR-R engine.

As was the case on Tuesday, the top seven were separated by less than a second. Californian Kyle Kaiser, driving for series returnees Juncos Racing, led the field with a test-best 1:05.2689.

Pro Mazda sparring partners Scott Hargrove (8Star Motorsports) and Spencer Pigot (Juncos Racing) were next up. The top seven were covered by 0.7993 of a second.

Reactions were positive pretty much across the board.

“The car is super-fast. I really enjoy driving it,” Kaiser said. “I started off just getting acclimated and finding the limits of the car. The faster and faster I go, I find the more I can push the car. I just really enjoy driving it. Everything is faster. You have more brakes, more grip, more downforce – everything is just improved.

“The tires have been handling great. On the new tires, we have been finding almost over a second. They have a lot more grip and are pretty consistent.”

Added Hargrove, the Tuesday time leader, “It seems like every time I go on the brakes, I go a bit later and it’s kind of getting serious at this point. The PFC brakes are just so good. If you lock up a little bit, you are just really pedaling it and instantly the wheels start spinning again so it is super controllable.

“The 2015 tires are really, really good. I am looking forward to the year on Coopers. The tires are more consistent, they last longer in a run and the construction of the tire suits this car better so hats off to those guys for making the right tire for the right car.”

Perhaps the most crucial piece of analysis came from Jack Harvey, confirmed earlier this month to return for a second season with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and thus far the only confirmed returnee to the series and driver with a year’s worth of experience in the old car.

“My first impression of the car was a pretty good one,” he said. “I think Dallara did a nice job of developing what I think was already a good car in the old Indy Lights. The new car in every way is a big step forward.”

As you’d expect, one would hope.

Here are the times from Wednesday’s test. Additionally, two videos captured on site are linked below, via Road To Indy TV and originally posted by Bart Ewer (the capture of five cars at one corner) and Ethan Ringel, one of SPM’s three confirmed drivers.

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.