With three races to go, IndyCar 2015 could still set a new record for most winners in a single season

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Ryan Hunter-Reay’s first victory in a year at last night’s Iowa Corn 300 has kept alive the possibility of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season setting a new record for the most different winners.

Back in June, we took a look at the pursuit of the record that currently stands at 11 from 2000, 2001 and 2014.

Hopes of a new record appeared to be fading after Josef Newgarden became a repeat winner at the Honda Indy Toronto, leaving the figure at seven with six races remaining.

In the three races that have followed, though, another two new winners have emerged in 2015. Graham Rahal ended his win drought at Fontana, and with Hunter-Reay winning last night’s race at Iowa Speedway, the figure stands at nine with three races to go.

So although the record remains within reach, it is still a long shot. Hitting the magic number of 12 would require a winless final trio of races for Rahal, Hunter-Reay, Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power, Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, Josef Newgarden and Carlos Munoz.

The ninth winner is James Hinchcliffe, who was ruled out for the rest of the reason due to injuries sustained in a crash at Indianapolis ahead of the Indy 500 back in May.

It is worth noting that some big names are missing from 2015’s list of winners, meaning that the record is perhaps not as unthinkable as first thought.

The leading winless driver in the standings is Helio Castroneves. Ranking third and with just 54 points to make up to Montoya at the top, the Brazilian is very much in the thick of the title race despite never gracing the top step of the podium.

Castroneves has come close, though. He has claimed three pole positions and led the most laps at three races, and very nearly completed a last-to-first charge in Milwaukee last weekend. If anyone is going to become the tenth different winner of 2015, it will be Helio.

Don’t discount the other Brazilian on the grid, though. Tony Kanaan is another driver who arguably should have won a race in 2015, coming closest at Fontana when he finished just three-tenths of a second behind Rahal at the checkered flag.

Had it not been for an engine issue on Saturday night in Iowa, the Kanaan may well have been in the fight for the win at the end. He is another driver to look out for in the final trio of races, particularly at Pocono given Ganassi’s strength on ovals so far this year.

So on the assumption that Castroneves and Kanaan win a race apiece in the final three rounds, 2015 will match the record. But who could be Mr. or Ms. 12?

Marco Andretti certainly has a good case given his consistency across the course of the season. The American has finished outside of the top ten in just three of the 13 races, lifting him to seventh in the standings with two podium finishes to his name.

Simon Pagenaud’s first year with Penske has been more about stability than success as he becomes accustomed to the team. The Frenchman has just two top tens in the last six races, though, and would need to buck the trend of his recent form if he wants to claim his first win of the year.

In reality though, another winner could come from anywhere. Sage Karam proved on Saturday that he has the fight and tenacity to battle at the front (even if Ed Carpenter was less than impressed). Charlie Kimball got in the mix at the Indy 500 back in May, finishing third overall. Takuma Sato is also a former winner.

The race to hit 12 is not yet over, and if we were to add another three names to the list of winners in 2015, it would have serious implications on the title race.

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.