Hunter-Reay’s 2015 Iowa win “doesn’t even compare” to 2014

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While Ryan Hunter-Reay has won a pair of races back-to-back at Iowa Speedway, and now three of the last four dating to 2012, his last two could not have been more different.

Saturday’s race win snapped a 19-race drought dating to last year’s Iowa Corn 300, and made Hunter-Reay the ninth different winner in 13 Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2015. It was also his first podium finish of the season.

Hunter-Reay gambled on tire strategy and fresh tires to basically steal the 2014 race win, but in 2015, he, Honda and Andretti Autosport beat Josef Newgarden in a head-to-head fight.

“Doesn’t even compare,” Hunter-Reay said post-race on Saturday. “The win last year was pretty cool because Michael made a great call. I was pretty skeptical at the time. We blitzed the field at the end of the race. That was a lot of fun.

“But this is a big deal, to come in and to be on the slump we’ve been on, to come in from ninth, work at it, earn the race win, really earn it in the fashion that we did, it’s a statement win. It’s big for us. It’s big for everybody involved in this team.”

The win came as Hunter-Reay entered the race 14th in points, needing help to keep his consecutive years streak of winning a race alive. He has now won at least once every year since 2010.

“It’s still been a tough season, but that makes this win sweet. It really does. The last 20 laps felt like an hour and a half just knowing how important this was to me, to the team, to our partners, DHL, Auto Nation, Honda. This is a big win,” he said.

“We went out and earned this one. We took it away from them, that’s a big deal. So this was, as I said, a massive win for the team. Feels great to be back in Victory Lane. Certainly I’m not happy with the way the season’s gone at all. More than anything at all, I just feel relief, like a big exhale is how I can describe it.”

Unfortunately, it’s also been overshadowed in the immediate aftermath, as frequently seems to be the case for Hunter-Reay throughout his career.

While Hunter-Reay broke through and ended a 19-race winless streak, the bigger story post-race was about Sage Karam and Ed Carpenter, and their war of words after coming too close for comfort in the final stages of the race.

It’s the latest overshadowing for Hunter-Reay, who in the past had his 2012 series championship overlooked due to management turbulence and the departure of Randy Bernard, and who also wasn’t fully exploited as the first American Indianapolis 500 champion in eight years after winning that race in 2014.

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.