Heading to third oval in three-race stretch, Rahal, Kanaan, Bourdais look to roll on

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This weekend’s Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway the third race of three in the Verizon IndyCar Series’ longest oval race stretch of the 2015 season.

It’s also proved to be an interesting shake-up to the IndyCar championship picture.

Juan Pablo Montoya’s back-to-back fourth place finishes have helped consolidate his lead in the championship, which was just 27 points over Will Power leaving Toronto (374-347).

However with Power posting back-to-back DNFs in Fontana and Milwaukee, the Australian is now 70 points behind with just four races to go. Power has been the single lowest scoring driver in the field who has raced both events; the Australian desperately needs a result to stem the tide from the last two races.

The dominant driver by far and away, from a results and points standpoint, has been Graham Rahal. The Fontana winner and Milwaukee third place finisher has scored 17 more points than anyone else in this two-race stretch, and risen from fifth in points, 91 back of Montoya, to a tie for third and only 69 behind the Colombian.

With second and sixth, Tony Kanaan has banked 70 points and Milwaukee winner Sebastien Bourdais has banked 69 in the last two races. Bourdais and Kanaan now sit sixth and eighth in the points with four races to go.

The other points numbers are fairly straightforward, although Ryan Briscoe has been unlucky to have not earned more the last two races. He’s run top-five in both Fontana and Milwaukee but is yet to deliver a result of note.

Here are the points on ovals through the last two races:

# Driver 11 12 T
15 Rahal H 51 36 87
10 Kanaan C 41 29 70
11 Bourdais C 16 53 69
2 Montoya C 33 32 65
27 Andretti H 36 24 60
9 Dixon C 29 27 56
3 Castroneves C 8 40 48
22 Pagenaud C 24 22 46
8 Karam C 31 11 42
83 Kimball C 24 18 42
67 Newgarden C 9 32 41
26 Munoz H 20 15 35
7 Jakes H 26 7 33
41 Hawksworth H 20 13 33
28 Hunter-Reay H 16 17 33
14 Sato H 13 16 29
20 Carpenter C 9 20 29
98 Chaves H 10 19 29
4 Coletti C 18 10 28
19 Vautier H 13 14 27
5 Briscoe H 15 9 24
18 Mann H 17 6 23
1 Power C 14 8 22
25 J.Wilson H 13 13

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.