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Will Power ruled out of St. Pete; Oriol Servia to replace

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Will Power has been ruled out of the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, a dramatic twist to kick off the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Per Verizon Team Penske, Power suffered through nausea throughout the day on Saturday but still pressed onto score the pole position (Verizon P1 Award).

As Power was still feeling the effects of his ailment on Sunday, Oriol Servia was drafted in as a last-minute replacement for the warmup, and will race for him.

Servia will take the start from the rear of the 22-car field, per a rule that states a substitute driver is moved to the back. Simon Pagenaud will take over P1 on the starting grid.

Here’s the release from the team:

As Will Power continues to feel the effects of nausea on Sunday, Team Penske has made the decision to start Oriol Servia in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Power fought through three rounds of qualifying and won his sixth career pole position at St. Pete on Saturday to lead a Team Penske 1-2-3-4 qualifying result. He has continued to battle an illness and will not compete in Sunday’s 110-lap race.

Servia, the 41-year-old veteran of 197 IndyCar races, drove the No. 12 Verizon Chevy in the morning warm-up on Sunday and finished ninth in the final practice session before today’s race. Per INDYCAR rules, Servia will start today’s race from the back of the field.

“Obviously this is a very difficult decision to make in the first race of the season, but Will’s health and safety is the most important thing to consider,” said Penske Racing President Tim Cindric. “We hope Will makes a speedy recovery and with Oriol’s professionalism and experience, we know he’ll do a solid job for our team.”

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

“I feel terrible for Will and just hope he feels better soon as he was my teammate a few years ago and he’s a good friend,” said Servia. “It’s not the way you want to get the opportunity to drive for Team Penske, but it will be an honor to race for the team and drive the fastest car on the grid today.”

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

VEACH OUT: Driver elects to vacate seat for rest of season

“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”