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Graham Rahal fastest in final IndyCar practice at Long Beach

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Graham Rahal was pretty dejected when his car wrecked during Saturday’s practice for today’s 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, suffering left front and left rear damage.

But after overnight repairs, Rahal’s Honda showed little worse for the wear, as he was fastest in Sunday morning’s final practice session on the nearly two-mile road course.

Rahal led all 21 cars in the warmup with a best speed of 105.222 and a top time of 1:07.3319.

However, Rahal will have a long way to get back to the front in today’s race, as he starts from the 17th position.

The rest of the top five in Sunday’s practice were polesitter Helio Castroneves (104.866 mph at 1:07.5605), Juan Pablo Montoya (104.783 mph at 1:07.6142), James Hinchcliffe (104.739 mph at 1:07.6426) and Scott Dixon (104.670 mph at 1:07.6871).

But several drivers struggled to get speed. Will Power was second-to-last on the speed chart with a speed of 103.656 mph at 1:08.3493, and Marco Andretti was two spots ahead of Power at 103.756 mph at 1:08.2832.

Sixth through 10th were Sebastien Bourdais (104.652 mph at 1:07.6984), Simon Pagenaud (104.632 at 1:07.7117), Ryan Hunter-Reay (104.537 at 1:07.7734), Mikhail Aleshin (104.375 at 1:07.8785) and Alexander Rossi (104.337).

The rest of the drivers, from 11th through 21st, were Takuma Sato (104.235 at 1:07.9693), Max Chilton (104.210 at 1:07.9861), Tony Kanaan (104.131 at 1:08.0373), Charlie Kimball (104.114 at 1:08.0488), Conor Daly (104.110 at 1:08.0508), Josef Newgarden (104.077 at 1:08.0725), Jack Hawksworth (104.043 at 1:08.0952), Marco Andretti (104.010 at 1:08.1167), Carlos Munoz (103.756 at 1:08.2832), Will Power (103.656 at 1:08.3493) and Luca Filippi (102.623 at 1:09.0371).

There were a few minor mishaps in the 30-minute session – primarily single car, no-damage spins — that involved Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball and Dixon on the final lap.

Luca Filippi also suffered a wheel fire when carbon on the outside of the rotor lit up. The fire was quickly extinguished and Filippi was back on the track shortly afterward.

 

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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.