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MRTI: Franzoni scores Pro Mazda Race 2 pole in wet qualifying

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – A wet qualifying session for Race 2 of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires at Watkins Glen saw Victor Franzoni again score pole, his second of the weekend, giving him a weekend sweep of qualifying. It also sees him increase his championship lead over Martin to nine entering the final race of the season.

Carlos Cunha qualified second, while Franzoni’s title rival Anthony Martin qualified third, provisionally. Nikita Lastochkin and Kris Wright completed the top five.

Things went from bad to worse for Martin ahead of tomorrow’s race, as he was later assessed a two-spot grid penalty for running the checkered flag. That sees him drop back to fifth on the official grid as Lastochkin and Wright were moved forward.

The wet qualifying session was problematic for a handful of drivers, especially in the early minutes. Martin brushed the wall in Turn 11 and Sting Ray Robb spun as well, but both drivers were able to continue. However, TJ Fischer spun exiting the bus stop and impacted the wall, bringing out a red flag before any drivers were able to record flying laps. Fischer was not credited with a timed lap and will start 13th.

Also of note: Robert Megennis will not participate in Race 2. Megennis was involved in a Race 1 crash with teammate Lastochkin that took both cars out of the race.

Qualifying results are below. Race 2 begins at 7:55 a.m. on Sunday morning.

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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.