NASCAR spotters find similar role in Rolex 24 much more challenging

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NASCAR is NASCAR and sports cars are sports cars – and never the two shall meet, right?

But at the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, that demarcation line is getting more blurry than ever.

Two of the best spotters in NASCAR will be lending their eyes and (hopefully) calming voices on the team radio in this year’s Rolex 24.

Tim Fedewa, himself a former NASCAR driver and primary spotter for reigning 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick, will give this sports car thing a whirl for a second time, having also done so in last year’s Rolex.

Also, Tyler Green, who has served as Aric Almirola’s spotter the last five years – including for Almirola’s first career Cup win last summer in the Coke Zero 400 at DIS – will also be for a second straight year at the Rolex.

Both Fedewa and Green will be part of a team for Mazda drivers, that also includes Mazda primary spotter Chris Long (who works full-time with Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR team), as well as Daniel Tremblay, son of Mazda SpeedSource team owner and driver, Sylvain Tremblay.

“It is a lot tougher than I had imagined,” Fedewa said in a Mazda Racing media release. “It really keeps you on your toes.

“I’m used to spotting where the cars on the track are all similar, and everyone runs pretty close to the same speed. For the (Rolex) 24, a spotter has to use a lot more knowledge because of multiple drivers, and the different classes and strategies involved.

“They all have different speeds and attributes, so I need to be aware of that at all times.”

Spotters work four-hour shifts during the race.

“We will do four hours on, and four off,” Green said. “We’re used to long days on the spotter stand at NASCAR races, but this is like doing three 500-mile Cup races in one day.

“You try to relax and sleep when you’re off, but it’s not easy. There’s always a lag of 30 minutes or more before you’re able to get to sleep.”

Spotters must be like postal carriers in the 24, in a sense. Neither gloom, nor dark, nor storms, nor chills will keep them from their appointed rounds in keeping their respective drivers safe and out of trouble.

“It’s pretty straightforward in the daytime,” Fedewa said. “But, it’s not lit up like a NASCAR race when it’s dark. So, you have to focus that much more.

“It can be cold with fog or rain, and you do get tired, but you have to stay focused on the car and work with the crew on whatever they need. Watching it on TV is one thing, but there is so much more involved than I imagined.”

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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.