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Stefan Wilson confirms Indy 500 run with KV Racing

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Stefan Wilson will make his return to the Verizon IndyCar Series and a much-anticipated debut in the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Wilson, 26, will attempt to qualify for his first Indianapolis 500 with KV Racing Technology, in an effort supported by the Indiana Donor Network and Gap Guard.

For Wilson, it’s the opportunity for months of work to have borne fruit and also a chance to fulfill his late brother’s legacy in the race. Justin Wilson lost his life last August at Pocono Raceway.

The KVRT effort for Stefan Wilson, who made one career IndyCar start as Justin’s teammate with Dale Coyne Racing at Baltimore in 2013, joins the KVSH team’s lone full season effort for Sebastien Bourdais and the KVSH technical partnership with PIRTEK Team Murray, which fields Matthew Brabham for the month of May.

Here’s the livery of the car, via designer Michael Peters:

An honor to be a part of this wonderful effort to promote organ & tissue donation and help Stefan Wilson achieve his…

Posted by Michael Peters on Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The full release is below:

IndyCar driver Stefan Wilson announced today that he will compete in the 100th Running of The Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil with 2013 winners KV Racing Technology. The 26-year old Briton is able to fulfill his dream of competing in the world’s largest one-day sporting event thanks to Indiana Donor Network and Gap Guard.

“Like so many other drivers, I grew up dreaming about the Indianapolis 500 and it’s all I’ve worked toward for the past few years. Justin raced in the 500 eight times and it was a dream to join him on the starting grid and race against him. I just never anticipated a situation where Justin wouldn’t be there with me,” said Stefan, a U.K. native who now calls Indianapolis home.

Wilson is no stranger to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He competed in the Indy Lights Freedom 100 in 2010 and 2011 with a highest finish of fourth in 2011 with Andretti Autosport.

Wilson is the younger brother of the late Justin Wilson, who won multiple races through his ten-year career at the top level of American open-wheel racing. Justin died in August 2015 from injuries he sustained in a race crash at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. He had previously registered his decision to become an organ donor and as a result, he saved five lives. Stefan will look to honor his brother and compete in The Greatest Spectacle in Racing in the No. 25 Driven2SaveLives-KVRT Chevrolet/Dallara/Firestone.

StefCar

“Justin’s decision to be an organ donor ended up being the one shining light out of that dark, terrible time after Pocono,” said Stefan. “I’m grateful to Indiana Donor Network and KV Racing Technology for the opportunity to fulfill a racing dream and to honor Justin’s legacy on such a monumental stage as the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.”

Indiana Donor Network is Wilson’s primary partner for his rookie run. Indiana Donor Network, one of 58 designated organ recovery organizations in the U.S., oversees and coordinates organ, tissue and eye donation, and provides public education on donation and transplantation across the state.

Together, Wilson and Indiana Donor Network have launched a campaign called Driven2SaveLives to promote organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation around the Indianapolis 500. The hope is to get 2,500 people across the country to register their decision to donate through Driven2SaveLives.

“Stefan’s story really personifies our mission at Indiana Donor Network,” said Kellie Hanner, president and chief executive officer at Indiana Donor Network. “His experience with Justin’s organ donation illustrates firsthand what it means to save and enhance lives. We couldn’t ask for a better champion and we hope Driven2SaveLives inspires others to become registered donors like the Wilson brothers.”

Donning the side of Wilson’s Chevrolet powered machine will be Gap Guard, a foam device used in personal and commercial vehicles, which prevents items from falling between the seat and the center console.

“’I’ve been in many Indy 500’s as a team owner, partner and sponsor, but to be in the 100th Running of the greatest spectacle in racing as a co-primary sponsor just has a nice ring to it,” said Dale Pelfrey, president and CEO of Gap Guard. “I’m so happy to team up with Stefan, KV Racing Technology and Chevrolet, and have a distinct feeling they’ll be a very strong package. We want to create awareness for Gap Guard through the alliance with Stefan, and we feel it is a perfect fit. Memorial Day weekend should be a great one.”

“I’ve known Dale (Pelfrey) for a few years now and I’ve been involved with his Road To Indy teams in that time. He has a huge passion for racing and the Indianapolis 500, and over the years he’s backed a lot of great drivers at Indy, so to have his support and to be able to represent his companies means a great deal to me,” Stefan said.

“Gap Guard is such an ingenious product, I used to always drop things down the gap between the seat and center console in my car. I never even thought about a solution, and then Dale showed me Gap Guard, and I’ve had a set in every car ever since.”

Wilson will be competing for KV Racing Technology this May with teammates Sebastien Bourdais and Matthew Brabham. Team owner Jimmy Vasser and team manager Steven Moore are excited to give Stefan his second opportunity at competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“We are pleased to announce that Stefan – a talented driver and an outstanding young man – will be driving for KV Racing Technology,” said Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owner of KV Racing Technology. “Stefan has raced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before with Indy Lights but this will be his first INDYCAR race there and we look forward to having him on our team for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.”

“Having spoken with Stefan throughout the winter about this project, I am very pleased to see it come to fruition,” said Jimmy Vasser, co-owner of KV Racing Technology. “Not only has Stefan proven to be a fast driver but he brings the complete package to the table. It also goes without saying that it will warm the hearts of everyone in the racing community to see him drive the No. 25.”

Wilson must pass all stages of the Rookie Orientation Program set for May 16th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in order to Qualify for the race. The 100th Running of The Indianapolis 500 takes place on Sunday, May 29 at 12:00 p.m. (ET).

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.