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After ending P2 on Thursday, Power says IMS defines May, season

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A few things have changed throughout the years, but one thing remains true. The month of May is about Indy, and only Indy.

The month leading up to the Indy 500 was once spent strictly in preparation for that iconic race, but as the sport evolved, so has the preparation needed to go fast on this course.

“Obviously it was a month long back in the day because people were bringing new cars every year,” Will Power said on Thursday after setting the second fastest time in practice for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the speedway’s infield road course. “You really had to spend a lot of time sorting it out.

“You don’t need that much time on the oval anymore,” Power added. “You can just drive round and round and round and not learn much.”

While the grandeur of the Indy 500 has not changed, and more pressure than ever may be present in 2016 since this is the 100th running of that race, the month of May on this track has become more of a microcosm of the season. To win the championship, drivers now have to show success both on road courses and ovals.

“You got to think that IndyCar is about versatility,” Power said. “You got both disciplines here, road course and oval. If you could win both, that would be such a great achievement, you could now boast both wins.”

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield road course is not just any circuit. It was designed to host the United States Grand Prix when Formula 1 returned to America in 2000 after an eight-year hiatus. And for that reason, this track has a distinct cosmopolitan feel with hints of Barcelona and Silverstone, according to Power.

“It’s a track I really enjoy because it’s technical. It’s very much like a European track. You can drive the car in a different way that you can’t drive it on any other circuit.”

Power won last year’s edition of this race and hasn’t won since, which is one reason “it’s definitely one of my favorites. It’s a lot of fun. I think it races well, too. With the long straights and everything, creates good racing. Hopefully we can see a lot of passing in the race.”

That sentiment is limited in scope, however. “If I’m in front, hopefully not.”

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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.