Zach Veach. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Zach Veach’s Indy 500 debut confirmed with Foyt

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – A seven-year veteran of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, Zach Veach will finally be making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in this year’s 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

The 22-year-old native of Stockdale, Ohio has been confirmed in A.J. Foyt Racing’s third car (No. 40 Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim Chevrolet) for the race. Veach won three times last year in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires series and made his IndyCar test debut at Sonoma Raceway in September with Ed Carpenter Racing and was working towards an IndyCar program for 2017.

Veach will keep Foyt’s team the youngest at this year’s Indianapolis 500, as he’s alongside Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz in the pair of ABC Supply Co. Chevrolets. Both Daly and Munoz are 25 years old; Daly has made three Indianapolis 500 starts (2013, 2015, 2016) and Munoz four (2013-2016), Munoz having finished second twice in 2013 and last year.

“To compete in the Indianapolis 500 is a dream I’ve had since I was four years old, so when the opportunity came about to join AJ Foyt Racing with the support of the IWiT Championship and Guggenheim, I was ecstatic,” Veach said in a release. “A lot of great people helped me to follow my dream, so I’m thrilled to be part of this program that strives to advance career opportunities for women in the field of science and technology.”

“We are happy to have another great entry for the 101st Indianapolis 500,” added Larry Foyt, president of AJ Foyt Racing. “Zach Veach is one of those drivers who has proven he deserves the opportunity by winning through the Mazda Road to Indy series, and he has put in massive effort to get to this level. The IWiT Championship is a great event for the Indianapolis community, and we are proud to help promote this event and welcome the LPGA back to Indianapolis.”

More to follow either later this weekend or next week.

Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.