NASCAR not looking to expand four-car limit for teams

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NASCAR Chairman Brian France said Monday there are no plans to allow teams to have more than four full-time cars even in a time when one Sprint Cup race did not have a full 43-car field and 17 other races had only 43 cars attempt to qualify last year.

NASCAR instituted a four-car limit for the 2006 season, grandfathering teams that had more at that time until their sponsor contracts ended. NASCAR currently allows a fifth car but only to run seven races with a rookie driver. That rule will allow Hendrick Motorsports to run Chase Elliott in select Cup races this season.

France said during Monday’s opening portion of the NASCAR media tour that “we’re not looking to expand beyond the current four, but it’s true that we’d like to see the barrier of entry lower (for car owner) than higher.’’

France told reporters last July at Daytona that progress has “been slow” with creating more avenues for potential new owners.

Lowering that barrier to entry remains an item that France is concerned with accomplishing.

“Are we making things easier … for new teams to look at coming in and competing in NASCAR?’’ France said. “We want to have an open sport where you’ve got the ability to compete. We’re going to make it easy as reasonably possible.’’

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president & chief racing development officer, said the four-car rule has proved beneficial for the sport.

“It’s allowed some of the new owners to come in, the Furniture Rows of the world, the Michael Waltrip Racings of the world, Harry Scott,’’ O’Donnell said. “Everyone doesn’t come into the sport immediately and become a champion. It takes time. Some of those folks who come in and maybe finish from 30th to 43rd, it’s easy to point to them and say why should they be in the sport? Fast forward five years from now and that driver could be competing for a championship. We’re comfortable where it is today. We’ll always look at that, but we want to keep that option open to bring in new owners.’’

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.