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MRTI: Team Pelfrey adds two USF2000 cars for Monterey

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Team Pelfrey isn’t just adding an extra Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires car for the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca season finale weekend, but it is also bringing two of its Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda cars back to action for the first time in months.

The team brings up two of its F1600 aces, Phillippe Denes and Kaylen Frederick, for their USF2000 – and Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires – series debuts. Both have won races in F1600 this weekend and gain the USF2000 seat time in advance of the F1600 final race weekend of the year, in October.

Denes will be in the team’s No. 82 entry with Frederick in the No. 81 Pilot One Racing car. It gives teenaged rookie Robert Megennis two new teammates to work with after Megennis has been going it alone since Lucas Oil Raceway back in May.

“I am beyond excited to be racing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with my second family [Team Pelfrey],” Denes said. “It’s been an honor to progress with such a great team and I’m looking forward to progressing even more and preparing for next year.”

Added Frederick, “After 2 solid days of testing and progress at Roebling Road, I’m super psyched for my first MRTI races with Team Pelfrey in USF2000 at Mazda Raceway next week.  Coming from F1600 races, this will be a step that I’ve been anxious to climb all year long. The USF2000 car is fast, and I like fast.”

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.