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Oriol Servia in for warm-up, Will Power TBD for St. Petersburg

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Oriol Servia will replace Will Power in the no. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet for Sunday’s warm-up ahead of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Power stormed to his sixth Verizon P1 Award in seven years at St. Petersburg with a dominant display in qualifying on Saturday, but confirmed after the session that he had been feeling ill throughout the day.

“I’ve been feeling pretty ill all day. It was a struggle to get through qualifying, honestly, but we were able to do it and after the Verizon P1 Pole Award presentation I just started feeling a lot worse,” Power said in a quote distributed to the media.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be at the press conference afterward. The car was great today and a big credit to the guys for doing a terrific job in qualifying. I’ll try to get some good rest tonight and come back ready to race on Sunday.”

MotorSportsTalk editor Tony DiZinno spotted a crew member walking into the no. 12 transporter with Servia’s helmet early on Sunday morning.

Servia himself then made an appearance in the Verizon Team Penske suit before undergoing a seat fitting in the no. 12 car ahead of taking part in warm-up at 9am ET in place of Power.

Servia confirmed to IndyCar writers Brant James of USA Today Sports and Dave Furst of WRTV in Indianapolis and IndyCar Radio that he would be in for warm-up, with a decision on Power’s participation in the race to be taken later in the day.

The news was then fully confirmed by INDYCAR and the team just before warm-up.

The full release from the team is as follows:

Despite suffering from nausea throughout the day on Saturday, Team Penske’s Will Power fought through three rounds of qualifying and won his sixth career pole position at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to lead a Team Penske 1-2-3-4 qualifying result.

With Power still feeling the effects of his ailment on Sunday and not knowing if he will be able to compete in today’s 110-lap race, Team Penske has turned to experienced IndyCar veteran Oriol Servia to step in if needed. Servia, who has made 197 IndyCar starts in his career, will drive the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet in the 30-minute morning warmup session Sunday in order to get familiar with the car should he be needed in the race. If Power is feeling better by race time, he will start the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. However, if Power is unable to compete, Servia will race for Team Penske.

Servia most recently raced in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway where he earned a 12th-place finish.

While Power’s status remains uncertain for the race, team principal Roger Penske seemed less optimistic Power would be able to race in a brief conversation with James and I on site. Servia has been called on on short notice at numerous occasions throughout his career.

Servia would move to the rear of the field if he starts the race, per the 2016 INDYCAR Rulebook and confirmed by a series spokesperson.

Rule 8.1.8.6: If after qualifications and prior to the  start of a Race, a Car has had its qualifications time, and/or original starting grid position disallowed, INDYCAR shall assign the Car a revised starting grid position at the rear of the starting field based on the following order:

a) Provisional starting Cars;
b) Unapproved Engine change (Rule 16.6.2.1);
c) Technical violations;
d) Competition violation; and
e) Substitute starting Driver.

In order for Servia to have participated in the race, he would need to complete at least one official session, as INDYCAR does not permit driver changes after the race start:

Rule 5.1.2.2.2: Another Driver who has qualified for the same Oval Event may be substituted for the original Driver, provided notification is given to INDYCAR and INDYCAR approves the substitution. No Driver substitutions will be approved during a Race after the conclusion of the parade and pace laps.

Spoke to Tim Cindric, president of Penske Racing and Power’s race strategist.

While Cindric did not confirm Power would not start today’s race, he did agree with Mr. Penske that Power appears less likely to start, just over two hours from the green flag time.

“We know he’s nauseous; beyond that, I am not going to speculate on Will’s condition,” Cindric told NBC Sports. “But I don’t see it changing given the short time.”

Oriol Servia was also on site on Saturday, and the team was working to ensure his equipment arrived in time for Sunday.

Tony DiZinno contributed to this report

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.