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AP Source: Organizers to announce US Grand Prix will race

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Organizers of the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix are set to announce the race will run in 2016 after months of speculation that financial troubles could force it off the calendar, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The Circuit of the Americas, which hosts the race near Austin, scheduled a Wednesday news conference. Track representatives have told local officials it will include announcing the U.S. Grand Prix will race, according to a government employee with direct of knowledge of the conversation.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly ahead of the official announcement.

The U.S. Grand Prix had been scheduled for Oct. 23 on Formula One’s calendar with an asterisk “subject to confirmation” of an agreement between F1 and race promoters. The first race of the Formula One season is the Australian Grand Prix on March 20.

Financial terms between the track and F1 were not immediately known. Messages were left seeking comment from Track President Bobby Epstein.

In previous years, track officials said they were promised $25 million per year for 10 years from the state’s portion of the Major Events Trust Fund, public money spent largely to pay Formula One’s commercial management for the right to hold the race.

But control of the fund was transferred to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office last year, and the future of the race was thrown into doubt when the state slashed nearly $6 million from going to the race. Race officials also said low attendance because of bad weather had been financially devastating.

Despite those setbacks, Circuit of the Americas officials had said they were hopeful the race could still run in 2016 and Formula One’s commercial boss, Bernie Ecclestone, had predicted the race would continue.

The track also got a financial boost in February when it reached a settlement with local officials to drastically reduce its property tax appraisals, saving more than $10 million by some estimates.

Losing the race would have been a blow to Formula One’s efforts to expand in the American market. Formula One didn’t race in the U.S. from 2008-2011 and its return to a specialized facility was seen as a major move to gain a long-term foothold in a country where NASCAR is the most popular motor series by far. And the 2016 season will include Haas F1, the first American-led team on the grid in 30 years.

The race has enjoyed a prominent late-season place on the Formula One calendar, which has made it an important stop in the season championship.

The races in 2012, 2014 and 2015 all played key roles in the title chase. Lewis Hamilton’s victory last year wrapped up his third Formula One season championship.

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.