More birthdays: Aldo Andretti, Bourdais, Hawksworth, Bachelart, Minassian, Leitzinger, Liddell

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February 28 marks a busy day for birthdays beyond Mario Andretti, who turns 75 today. Mario’s twin brother Aldo – often overlooked – also turns 75 today.

Two current members of the Verizon IndyCar Series grid have their birthdays today, as well.

Sebastien Bourdais, the four-time Champ Car champion and current driver of the No. 11 Hydroxycut Mistic KVSH Racing Chevrolet, turns 36. He’ll be back for his second season with KVSH Racing this year, and his 11th overall in North America since coming over as a then-24-year-old rookie in 2003.

Speaking of 24-year-olds, that’s how old Jack Hawksworth turns today. The Englishman enters his fourth season in North America, and second in IndyCar, now driving the No. 41 ABC Supply Co. Honda for A.J. Foyt Enterprises. Hawksworth was presented with a birthday cake adorned with the ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers logo during the premiere of “Focus” last night.

Two former IndyCar drivers who have since moved into other arenas of the sport have birthdays today, as well.

Eric Bachelart, a two-time Indianapolis 500 starter and former Indy Lights champion who went on to have a successful career as team owner of Conquest Racing, turns 54 today. Conquest most recently ran the development project of the new Dallara IL15 Indy Lights chassis.

Bourdais’ countryman Nicolas Minassian, who achieved some success in Formula 3000 and briefly drove for Target Chip Ganassi Racing before embarking on a highly successful sports car career, turns 42. The Frenchman is expected to continue with SMP Racing, as that team shifts ts focus from the FIA World Endurance Championship to the European Le Mans Series in 2015.

One of North America’s more underrated sports car drivers, Pennsylvania native Butch Leitzinger, also has his birthday today – he turns 46. Leitzinger will be in the No. 20 Bentley Team Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3 in the Pirelli World Challenge this season.

Scottish sports car ace Robin Liddell also has a birthday today – he’s now 41 – and drives for Stevenson Motorsports in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.

We wish them all happy birthdays.

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.