Ford’s Ken Block kicks off Red Bull GRC season with win (VIDEO)

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More on the weekend’s Red Bull Global Rallycross opener will follow later this week on MotorSportsTalk, but to kick things off, here’s a release from Ford on Ken Block winning the opener in Fort Lauderdale, with a video linked above.

Fresh off of his successful run in the New Zealand Rally Championship, Ken Block piloted his Ford Fiesta ST to a first place finish in the season opener of Red Bull Global Rallycross in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Sunday afternoon.

Despite a triumphant finish, the 75-percent pavement track initially posed a challenge for the Hoonigans.  Block took third in his first heat before improving to second in the following heat and ultimately first in both the semi finals and main event.

“It was a very difficult track, and it was tarmac, which is not my specialty.  I had to battle two Formula 1 racers [Scott Speed and Nelson Piquet Jr.] who are tarmac experts.  But I got lucky and I got a good start during the final.  Even though we didn’t qualify that great, I left with the fastest lap time of the day,” Block said post-race.

The Head Hoonigan took the runner-up position in the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship, and is optimistic about 2015 after his season-opening win.

“It is a really great way to start the season.  It was a total team effort: the Ford Fiesta performed well, the team performed well.  Both the vehicle and the team worked hard to come away with this win.

Block will be taking his Ford Fiesta ST to the X Games in Austin, Texas next weekend before returning to Florida for Red Bull Global Rallycross in Daytona on June 19-21.

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.