IndyCar: Will Power wins third straight Firestone 600 pole

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FORT WORTH – It’s hot down here in North Texas, but the heat isn’t making you see triple. Will Power won his third straight Verizon P1 Award at Texas Motor Speedway for the Firestone 600 with an average speed of 218.519 mph.

Power was the first of the field’s 23 cars to take to the 1.5-mile track.

“I drew number one obviously this morning in the drivers meeting,” Power said. “I was a little worried about the conditions.  It kind of stayed consistent over the whole run of qualifying.  I was really happy to get pole honestly.”

It’s also Power’s fourth pole in 2015, having started P1 in St. Petersburg, the Indianapolis road course and race one of the Dual in Detroit. Team Penske will start from the pole for the eighth time in nine races in 2015. The only exception came with Scott Dixon in the Indianapolis 500.

“The race, it’s going to be interesting.  You know, you got all this stuff you can put on to add downforce if you want,” Power said.  “But it’s quite draggy, so you lose a bit of speed.  It’s going to be about finding the right compromise for speed loss versus grip.  I guess we’ll try some things tonight and see how it all stacks up.”

Speaking of Team Penske, three of the top five positions on the starting grid are filled with Power’s teammates. Simon Pagenaud will start P2 (218.441), Helio Castroneves is P3 (218.059) and Juan Pablo Montoya is P5 at 217.530 mph.

The quartet was broken up by the last qualifying attempt, made by Andretti Autosport’s Carloz Munoz and his average speed of 217.831.

Defending race winner Ed Carpenter qualified 15th, one position behind teammate Josef Newgarden.

Sage Karam, making his first appearance at TMS, qualified 10th.

Starting Grid:

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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.