Graham Rahal: Someone needs ‘to apologize to fans’ for Firestone 600 delay

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FORT WORTH – The Firestone 600 has had four different scheduled start times beginning with 7:50 p.m. ET Saturday night.

The race finally started just before 2:50 p.m. ET Sunday afternoon.

About 20 minutes after the fourth start time of 2:06 p.m. ET, Graham Rahal voiced his displeasure at the drying efforts of the track, saying fans at Texas Motor Speedway and watching on TV should receive an apology an apology.

Track dryers were still on the track as late as 2:35 p.m. ET working on weepers on the apron and the backstretch. At 2:41 p.m. ET, when drivers were called to their cars, the temperature at TMS was 89.2 degrees but felt like 98 degrees according to wunderground.com.

“It’s tough, because weepers only get worse when the sun hits the track,” Rahal said.  “Fans don’t understand. No one has come on TV at track. Eddie Gossage or somebody should come on TV to apologize and explain what’s happening. We’re all sitting here and waiting.

“I feel terrible for the fans. Obviously they’re watching. We appreciate everyone tuning back in, and particular the ones sitting here in the heat.”

Gossage tweeted in response to Rahal’s comments.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was one of a handful of drivers that had inspected the track.

“There’s just some weepers that are really causing some issue. It sucks the water back out of ground. Heat brings it out,” Hunter-Reay told CNBC, saying the biggest concern was wet spots on the apron.

“If one car touches the wrong spot it creates a really bad deal and you’d kick yourself if not even trying,” Hunter-Reay said. “If this was a test day, we wouldn’t be running.

“We can essentially dry the racing lines out. It’s more the areas that don’t have a jet drier, like the apron. I could run right now.”

 

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.