NOLA kicks off crazy stretch of 10 weeks in a row for IndyCar

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The Verizon IndyCar Series’ long offseason stretched seven months in-between races at Auto Club Speedway August 30, 2014 and the season-opening race on the streets of St. Petersburg March 29.

But starting this weekend, the series will be on-track every weekend between now and June 15, with plenty of more weekday track time in-between.

This 10-week consecutive stretch is going to test the mettle of drivers, crews, and staff alike. Here’s the rundown of days of on-track activity between this week’s inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana and the Honda Indy Toronto in June:

  • April 10-12, NOLA Motorsports Park, Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana
  • April 17-19, Streets of Long Beach, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
  • April 25-26 (no Friday practice), Barber Motorsports Park, Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
  • May 3, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, oval aero kit testing
  • May 7-9, IMS road course, Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis
  • May 11-15, IMS oval, Indianapolis 500 practice
  • May 16-17, IMS oval, Indianapolis 500 qualifying/pole qualifying
  • May 18, IMS oval, Indianapolis 500 practice
  • May 22, IMS oval, Indianapolis 500 Carb Day practice
  • May 24, IMS oval, 99th Indianapolis 500
  • May 29-31, Belle Isle Park, Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans
  • June 5-6, Texas Motor Speedway, Firestone 600
  • June 12-14, Exhibition Place, Honda Indy Toronto

From tomorrow, April 10, through June 14, IndyCar has official on-track sessions in 30 of the next 66 days.

Figure the leftover 36 requires transport, car changeover and other logistical elements, and it’s going to be 66 days of madness between now and the series’ lone trip to Canada for all involved with the championship.

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.