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Michael Andretti: Surfers Paradise could follow Road America’s success with IndyCar comeback

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Michael Andretti supports IndyCar’s possible return to Surfers Paradise in Australia, believing it could enjoy similar success to Road America after its comeback earlier this year.

Verizon IndyCar Series officials confirmed reports last month that a return to Australia’s Gold Coast was being evaluated.

Surfers Paradise last played host to a non-championship race in 2008 after the Champ Car-IndyCar merger.

Andretti won the inaugural race at Surfers Paradise back in 1994, and is supportive of a possible return for IndyCar in the near future.

“It would be great,” Andretti told NBC Sports.

“I don’t know how real that is, but if it is real, I would definitely support it.”

Andretti thinks a race in Australia could mirror the success enjoyed at Elkhart Lake earlier this year, when Road America played host to a record crowd last month after an eight-year absence.

“From an event standpoint and feel-good for the series and support, it’s a fantastic event going down there,” Andretti said of Surfers Paradise.

“It would be cool to go back there because you look at what happened at Elkhart Lake – to come back that, it was overwhelming the support and everything that you felt there.

“It was actually a record crowd for that track. It could happen that way in Australia as well.”

When asked if Road America’s success reflected the strength of IndyCar at the moment, Andretti said: “I think so. We have support.

“You look at our events. Our oval races, some of them we have a bit of a problem getting fans, but man, when you get to the street races and some of the natural road courses, we get tons of people.

“There are still a lot of IndyCar fans out there.”

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.