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Bourdais leads final practice for Honda Indy Toronto

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Sebastien Bourdais closed out practice for the Honda Indy Toronto at the top of the timesheets as drivers continued to dial in ahead of qualifying later today.

Race officials made minor changes to the track overnight, moving the wall at Turn 8 back six feet to give drivers more room and sandblasting Turns 1 and 9 to provide more consistent grip through the corners.

The changes would quickly improve lap times, and the potential of a sub-1-minute lap is possible if there’s a big enough delta gain from the Firestone black primaries to the softer red alternates.

Simon Pagenaud’s benchmark of 1:01.7 from Friday was quickly dwarfed, the Frenchman leading the way early on before teammate Will Power shot to the front.

Power was the first to dip below the 1:01 barrier, with Helio Castroneves following suit soon after in second place as the Penske drivers dominated much of the session.

With 13 minutes remaining, Bourdais produced a lap of 1:00.6035 to edge out Power by three-tenths of a second, laying down the gauntlet for the Australian in the final stages of the session.

Pagenaud popped up into second place, two-tenths shy of Bourdais’ time before the session was red flagged after Mikhail Aleshin hit the wall at Turn 5.

Although Aleshin was able to return to the pits under his own power, a swift clean-up was required under the red flag before the session resumed with less than two minutes remaining.

Bourdais led at the checkered flag ahead of the Penske trio of Pagenaud, Power and Castroneves, the fourth car of Juan Pablo Montoya limited to just 13 laps as the team continued to work on his engine amid ongoing problems.

Scott Dixon finished the session fifth for Chip Ganassi Racing ahead of Jack Hawksworth and Graham Rahal, while teammate Charlie Kimball rallied to P8. Aleshin and Tony Kanaan rounded out the top 10.

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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.