(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedways)

Eddie Gossage: Firestone 600 rescheduling ‘best way to best serve fans’

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FORT WORTH —  In a 20-minute press conference Sunday evening at Texas Motor Speedway, track president Eddie Gossage and INDYCAR president of competition and operations Jay Frye explained why the Firestone 600 has been rescheduled for completion on Saturday, Aug. 27 due to rain on Saturday and Sunday.

“After a lot of consultation this afternoon, it was quite a meeting of people, everybody was on their phones up there calling all the right folks,” Gossage said.

The “right folks,” which included race teams, decided the race originally set for Saturday night under the lights will resume from Lap 72 with James Hinchcliffe in the lead, which is dictated by the IndyCar rule book.

“It’s pretty specific that we need to pick up where we left off,” Frye said. “(We will) run the race that night continuing from where we left with the intent of getting an entire race in for our fans and the fans here at Texas Motor Speedway. This is unique, it hasn’t happened for a little while but there are a lot of unique things here and we’ll look forward to coming back August 27.”

The race race will come a week after the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.

The conclusion of the 248-lap race will begin around 7 p.m. CT, and will come after one practice and an autograph session earlier in the day featuring every Verizon IndyCar driver present at the race.

“We felt that was the best way to best serve all the fans,” Gossage said. “The lightning is still going on out there, we maybe could have hung around trying to get it dry for tonight and run enough to get to halfway, but that’s not right. We want to give the fans a race today.”

Gossage called it “kind of an unprecedented situation” and that it was “pretty much unanimous” among race teams that they wanted to complete the race.

The last time an IndyCar race was completed on a day later than it was started was in Brazil in 2011. The race was finished on May 2, after starting May 1.

The Firestone 600 was stopped on Lap 72 after 30 laps of caution following a nasty crash involving Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden. Newgarden was airlifted to Parkland Memorial Hospital for evaluation of his right hand and right shoulder, and later confirmed to have a fractured right clavicle and small fracture to his right hand.

Frye said both drivers would be given the chance the rejoin the race on Aug. 27, but they would be scored where they were when the red flag was displayed.

Gossage said any ticket for the Firestone 60 can be used at any Texas Motor Speedway event in the next calendar year for a ticket of equal or lesser value.

“Everybody loses in this deal, unfortunately,” Gossage said.

Said Frye, “On the expense side, this is a big expense for us too. The race teams, they all have to come back. We all got to come back. We want to do this for the fans. We want to put on a great event.”

This is the second TMS race impact by rain this year. The April NASCAR Sprint Cup race was delayed a few hours but was able reach its conclusion.

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.