Photo: IndyCar

Pagenaud leads Power at halfway mark at Barber

Leave a comment

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Simon Pagenaud remains in front of Will Power through the opening 45 laps of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, the fourth round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season from Barber Motorsports Park (LIVE on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

The field is through two rounds of pit stops with varying tire strategies, alternating between Firestone’s primary blacks and softer red alternate tires, but Pagenaud has led all but two of the first 45 laps – Graham Rahal led two during the first pit sequence.

In the third stint of the race, Pagenaud led Power by 1.3663 seconds with Pagenaud on blacks and Power on reds.

Rahal got around Josef Newgarden for third prior to the second stop and is poised for his first podium finish of the year. Newgarden, the defending Barber winner, runs fourth ahead of James Hinchcliffe.

Hinchcliffe saw a battle with Charlie Kimball end early when Kimball was ordered to give up a position to Hinchcliffe.

The big mover thus far is Juan Pablo Montoya, who runs sixth after starting 21st. He made up 14 spots in the first stint.

The initial start was waved off following an accordion effect collision between Carlos Munoz, Mikhail Aleshin and Jack Hawksworth near the back of the field, and a second start waved off because the field was out of order. But on Lap 3 the field got going and has been under green flag conditions since.

Andretti Autosport has moved steadily through the field with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi each getting into the top 10 at one stage; Hunter-Reay made a good move of Rossi to the outside of Turn 5 for 10th before the second round of stops.

Sebastien Bourdais meanwhile hit Scott Dixon and had to serve a drive-through for the contact, and needed a new front wing. Still, Bourdais has been one of the fastest cars on the track since, although he’s mired in 19th.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.