Jamin with Andretti's Rob Edwards. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Four Indy Lights drivers set to test IndyCars at Road America

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The first round of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires drivers testing in the Verizon IndyCar Series for 2017 will take place tomorrow at Road America, Andretti Autosport has confirmed on Tuesday.

Two of the team’s four Indy Lights drivers, Nico Jamin and Dalton Kellett, will be in two of the team’s IndyCars for their first runs this season.

In Jamin’s case, the Frenchman adds his maiden IndyCar test to his resume in a year where he’s won races in all of Indy Lights, IMSA Prototype Challenge in a Ligier JS P3 car, and Pirelli World Challenge GTS in a KTM X-BOW GT4.

Kellett, the Indy Lights sophomore, will have his second day in an IndyCar after testing last fall at Watkins Glen for the first time.

They’ll be joined by Carlin Indy Lights driver Matheus Leist, the Brazilian who won the Freedom 100 last month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Leist won last year’s British F3 title and like Jamin, will have his first run in an IndyCar.

The tests run alongside a current Verizon IndyCar Series driver, in this case Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi, as part of INDYCAR’s rule that allows for rookie test days for Indy Lights drivers (Rule 6.5.4.1).

Kellett will take over Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 DHL Honda, Jamin Andretti’s 27 Honda and Leist Rossi’s No. 98 Honda.

Kellett. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

“Coming back for a second test in an Indy car is exciting,” said Kellett. “I can’t wait to get back on track. I intend to build on what I learned at the Watkins Glen test last year and I’m very thankful for this opportunity from Andretti Autosport. It’s one of the amazing parts of this program, getting a chance like this to test in the Dallara IR-12 at Road America. I’m honored to work with Ryan [Hunter-Reay] and the rest of the No. 28 crew – being able to use this experience as a guide will be a valuable asset during the test. The overall goal of this test is to create a learning opportunity that I can use as a stepping stone in the future.”

Jamin said of his first test, “I am extremely thankful and excited to have the opportunity to test an Indy car for the first time. As a driver in Mazda Road to Indy, it is something I have been looking forward to for the last four years, and I am only a few days away from it now. I definitely feel ready for the challenge, and I’m looking forward to learning as much as possible and making it a great experience. it will be really cool to drive the bigger sister of my No. 27, and to share the car with Marco [Andretti].”

Leist. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Leist added of his, “I’m really looking forward to the testing and Indy car with Andretti Autosport. This is going to be a mega opportunity for me. It has been a dream since I was young to drive an Indy car. Hope to have fun and learn as much as I can from the team.”

Besides these three, fellow Indy Lights driver Zachary Claman De Melo will test again for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, as he did last year at Mid-Ohio. He’ll share the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda with James Hinchcliffe.

Dale Coyne Racing, following a thrash and rebuild, are also expected to test.

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.