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Capps takes No. 1 qualifying position in NHRA Funny Car

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CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) Points leader Ron Capps took the No. 1 qualifying position in Funny Car on Saturday at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals.

Coming off a Winternationals win two weeks ago in Pomona, Capps set a track record with a 3.925 second pass at 320.50 mph in his Dodge Charger, just .005 of a second better than Courtney Force’s 3.930 run on Friday. It is the 18th No. 1 of his career and third at this event.

“We’re not so naive to think this can keep up,” Capps said. “There’s too good of competition. We’ll just take it, we’ll take the wins and this is a great No. 1 qualifier and this sets us up great for Sunday.”

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) and Bo Butner (Pro Stock) also will lead their categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations as No. 1 qualifiers.

Kalitta powered his Kalitta Motorsports dragster to a 3.741 at 320.74 in the final round of qualifying to earn his 44th No. 1 and his fourth at Wild Horse Pass Motor Sports Park, holding off rival Antron Brown, whose improved time of 3.760 at 322.65 wasn’t enough as he sits in the second spot.

Butner claimed his first career No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Stock with his pass of 6.618 at 208.88 in a Chevy Camaro from Friday. Butner teammates Jason Line and Greg Anderson qualified second and third in their Camaros.

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.