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INDYCAR confirms aero kit freeze for ’17, universal aero kit for ’18

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INDYCAR has confirmed a freeze on aero kit development for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season before the planned introduction of a universal aero kit for 2018.

The move had been expected in IndyCar circles for some time, and has now been officially confirmed ahead of the 2016 season finale at Sonoma.

Here is the release from INDYCAR:

INDYCAR announced today it has placed a freeze on aero kit development for manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda that will take effect immediately in preparation for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Manufacturers will run their current aero kit specifications next season as INDYCAR prepares to introduce a universal aero kit for the start of the 2018 season.

“Today’s announcement follows an extended dialogue with Chevrolet, Honda, our teams and stakeholders – this decision focused on what is best for the future of the Verizon IndyCar Series,” said Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations. “This is an integral component to INDYCAR’s long-term plan to continue to produce the highest quality of on-track competition while also positioning ourselves to add additional engine manufacturers.”

Aero kit regulations were initially announced in 2013 and introduced into on-track competition in 2015. The kits featured aerodynamic bodywork components that were designed, manufactured and supplied by Chevrolet and Honda for road/street/short oval courses and a separate kit for superspeedways.

“The 2018 car is a tremendous opportunity for INDYCAR and the design collaboration is already underway,” Frye continued. “The goal of the universal car is to be great-looking, less aero dependent, have more potential for mechanical grip/downforce and to incorporate all the latest safety enhancements.”

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.