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Alexander Rossi, Max Chilton eager for first career IndyCar starts at Long Beach

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It’s about 450 miles south from Auburn, California to Long Beach, but Alexander Rossi hopes to feel right at home in his first career appearance in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Even though he’s a California native, this will be the first time Rossi has raced an Indy car in his home state.

“Long Beach is one of those races that you always hear about as an unbelievable venue and event, so I am very excited to be a part of it this year,” said Rossi, driver of the No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda. “This will be the first time in my professional career that I have raced at home in California and I will certainly be looking to put on a strong show for the local crowd.”

MORE: Late puncture halts Rossi’s impressive oval debut

MORE: Chilton follows up strong qualifying with solid seventh at PIR

While it will be Rossi’s first time racing at Long Beach, Max Chilton will be making his second start on the nearly two-mile Verizon IndyCar Series street course on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, having raced there last season in the Indy Lights event.

“I think we should be optimistic for Long Beach this weekend,” said Chilton, driver of the No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. “I raced in Indy Lights here last year so I have some knowledge of the circuit.

“We have one street race under our belts in St. Petersburg this year, so there were a lot of lessons learned that can be applied here.”

But perhaps the biggest lesson Chilton will learn will come from teammate, defending Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach winner and 2015 series champion Scott Dixon.

Scott is the defending winner and really knows how to get around this place as well,” Chilton said. “So I’ll be looking to him for pointers before we get started on track Friday.”

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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.