Bourdais quickest in opening practice at Mid-Ohio

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Sebastien Bourdais kicked off the Honda Indy 200 weekend at Mid-Ohio in the best possible fashion by finishing as the quickest driver in the first practice session on Friday morning.

Bourdais recorded a fastest lap time of 1:06.2034 late on to finish 0.16 seconds clear of Will Power in second place in a close first session in perfect weather conditions.

The 75-minute session was interrupted by three red flag periods due to drivers stopping out on track. Luca Filippi was beached at turn five after spinning in the no. 20 CFH Racing car, requiring assistance to get back going.

Tony Kanaan made a similar error later in the session, whilst Simon Pagenaud was also responsible for a red flag after hitting the tire wall. He was, however, able to continue in the session.

Juan Pablo Montoya spent the majority of the session stuck in his garage after an alternator issue emerged on his Penske no. 2 car before the green flag was shown. The team worked frantically to fix the problem, allowing the Colombian to get out on track with 20 minutes remaining. He eventually finished 23rd in the timesheets, nine-tenths of a second down on Bourdais at the top.

Behind Power in second, two-time race winner Josef Newgarden finished third for CFH Racing ahead of Takuma Sato. Jack Hawksworth led for much of the session, but could only finish fifth in the end.

Mid-Ohio specialist Scott Dixon finished sixth in first practice ahead of fellow title contender Graham Rahal. Marco Andretti slotted into eighth at the end of the session ahead of Carlos Munoz and Simon Pagenaud, who rounded out the top ten in P9 and P10 respectively.

Second practice at Mid-Ohio is set to start at 3:15pm ET, and will run until 4:30pm ET.

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.