Power: “Adversity makes me very motivated to make up for it”

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Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power’s disastrous Long Beach weekend just completed knocked him from third, 14 points back of teammate and points leader Juan Pablo Montoya leaving NOLA Motorsports Park, to sixth, now 39 points back.

With 20th place at Long Beach, Power had his worst finish since 2013 at Baltimore, when he ended 18th following a controversial collision with Scott Dixon. He hadn’t finished outside the top 15 since – 23 consecutive races – before the Long Beach finish.

But it’s early days yet in the season and given his record at Barber, three poles and two victories in five starts, he’s not concerned yet.

If anything, the driver of the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet will look to channel Long Beach winner Dixon in terms of bouncing back at the next race.

“After a weekend like we had at Long Beach I want nothing more than to get back to the racetrack as quickly as possible,” Power said, via Team Penske’s “The Power Outlet” posted to Facebook.

“It’s never fun having to go through a weekend like that. Luckily for our No. 1 Verizon Chevy team they don’t happen very often. We had bad luck in qualifying and it just snowballed from that point.

“However, all that adversity makes me very motivated to make up for it over the next couple of weeks, starting with Barber this weekend.

“We know that we can run a quick pace and challenge for the win there because we have done that on multiple occasions in the past. My teammates have been very solid and very consistent over the first few races and I need to be back on track this weekend to stay with them.”

All four drivers from Team Penske are in the top seven in points. Both Power and Simon Pagenaud have had one “mulligan,” per se, in the first three races – while both Montoya and Helio Castroneves are a perfect three-for-three in top-five finishes to kick off the year.

Montoya leads Castroneves by three points (119-116), with Power (80) and Pagenaud (73) close enough to move forward with a big weekend.

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.