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A year after giving command, Hinchcliffe ready to take command at Texas

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A year can make all the difference in the world.

At least it has for James Hinchcliffe, who last year was forced to make an impromptu command to start engines at Texas Motor Speedway instead of receiving it.

“As much as I wish I was down there with you guys right now, I’m not,” Hinchcliffe said from his home in Toronto. “So you guys have to go put on a good show for me because I don’t get quite as much action as I used to. Have a fun, fast and most importantly safe race.”

With the command delivered, Hinchcliffe’s replacement driver Ryan Briscoe fired up the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Honda, rolled off from the grid 19th, and put on an impressive show while Hinch watched from the couch. Briscoe finished eighth.

The 2015 season was put on hold following last May. This year at Texas, Hinchcliffe will receive the command. It’ll be his first start at Texas since finishing 14th in 2014, then driving with Andretti Autosport.

Now, Hinchcliffe has a full season to look forward to, and will look to atone from a challenging weekend in Detroit. A mechanical issue caused an accident on Saturday and then Sunday, he was caught up in a three-wide mess with Carlos Munoz and Charlie Kimball at the start.

“Now that we are past Indy, we are headed to all the tracks I missed last year,” Hinchcliffe noted before the Firestone 600.

“I’m incredibly excited for the rest of the calendar. Texas Motor Speedway is no exception. Since the DW12 came out, the racing there has been super intense from inside the car. It’s one of the biggest setup challenges of the year, so we are hoping that the Arrow Electronics car can be solid rolling off the truck and can fight up front.”

Hinchcliffe aims to be the seventh different winner in nine IndyCar races this season. The closest he came this year was when he finished third in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He also scored a famous pole for the Indianapolis 500.

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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.