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Ricciardo: Bahrain’s grown more exciting since becoming a night race

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Daniel Ricciardo has hailed the Bahrain Grand Prix as a much better race since it became a night race two years ago.

Of course, correspondingly, his results have improved at the track in the same time period. The 26-year-old Australian hadn’t scored points in his first two cracks at the race in 2012 and 2013 with Scuderia Toro Rosso, although a sixth place qualifying run with Toro Rosso there in 2012 marked him as a future man to watch.

The last two years, Ricciardo has finished fourth and sixth. Even though he’s unlikely to score a podium on the Red Bull RB12 TAG Heuer’s outright pace, he’s still confident to maintain the momentum after finishing fourth in Melbourne to open the season two weeks ago.

“I think the track’s always been pretty fun to race on, I feel I’ve always had good results at this track, and there are good places for overtaking,” Ricciardo said in the team’s pre-race advance.

“Since it’s been a night race it’s become a lot more exciting. The tires last a bit longer and you can push a bit harder throughout the race so it’s been a good challenge the last few years and a place I’ve always enjoyed.

“There’s not really one standout corner that’s like ‘woah’ but it’s all pretty cool and the middle sector is quite fun.

Ricciardo noted that between Bahrain, Singapore and Abu Dhabi, it’s good to have a handful of night races without there being too many.

“Night races are fun, for whatever reason it feels like you go a bit faster at night, so it’s exciting,” he said. “If every race was a night race it wouldn’t have that same atmosphere so it’s cool that we have a few across the year.”

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.