IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Jack Hawksworth

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MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with Jack Hawksworth. Hawksworth had a challenging second season in the sport.

Jack Hawksworth, No. 41 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda

  • 2014: 17th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 2nd, 1 Podium, 1 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 32 Laps Led, 15.6 Avg. Start, 13.1 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 17th Place, Best Finish 7th, Best Start 8th, 0 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 16 Laps Led, 17.2 Avg. Start, 15.9 Avg. Finish

Hawksworth endured something of a nightmare second season in IndyCar, after a promising rookie season in 2014 where he frequently punched above his weight with Bryan Herta Autosport. It all went the opposite of the intended plan; Hawksworth moved to Texas, had a teammate, a decent engineering staff and more available resources but by way of either bad luck, bad timing, bad setups or a combination of all of the above, never had one truly standout weekend.

There was a harbinger of positivity at the season opener at St. Petersburg, where Hawksworth vaulted from 21st to eighth by the finish, despite needing a new front wing and pitting off sequence to lead five laps. But he didn’t produce a single top-10 qualifying run – teammate Takuma Sato had five – his best efforts were 11th on two occasions to fly the flag for Honda’s frequently difficult road course aero kit. His one top-10 start came courtesy of a rainout at NOLA, where the field was set by entrant points (and thus, his St. Petersburg result).

After the eighth in St. Pete, Hawksworth’s four remaining top-10 finishes all were almost completely strategy or yellow flag timing-aided rather than down to outright performance. His best drive was probably Detroit race two, where he twice served as Sage Karam’s bowling pin, yet recovered to seventh by the checkered flag.

It’s easy to forget Hawksworth is only 24 considering he won the 2012 Star Mazda title, won races in Indy Lights in 2013 and overachieved a year ago with Herta. But he can’t afford future seasons like this one and provided he returns with Foyt, as is expected, for 2016, he’ll need to enter himself into the “comeback driver of the year” conversation. This was definitely a year to forget for the likable Englishman.

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.