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‘Still a possibility’ Mexico will join 2018 IndyCar calendar

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Although it wasn’t listed on the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series calendar released earlier today, Mexico still could get added to the schedule as an 18th race, likely in August.

Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles addressed the lingering topic of Mexico’s presence but didn’t want to confirm the race in advance before all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, as the area rebuilds following a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico City earlier this year.

“Yes, I think there is still a possibility of adding Mexico City for next year,” Miles said. “We felt like with Portland being nailed down, most of the schedule, a schedule we’re happy to have as our final schedule for next year is set, ought to be public.

“But there is ongoing work in Mexico City to get to the track there. I think it’s quite close. We’re optimistic about the possibility, even yet to be added for the 2018 schedule.”

If the race happens, Miles identified an early August date. Looking at the schedule, that likely would fall on Sunday, August 5, the weekend after a race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. If the race was a week later, on August 12, it would position the series for a four-week in a row stretch to tack on Mexico before racing at Pocono for 500 miles, Gateway on a short turnaround, and then out to the Pacific Northwest in Portland.

“If it happens, it will be in there probably just after Mid-Ohio where we have a little longer break in the middle of our summer than we’d like,” he said.

“Everything we know about the opportunity there is exciting. Great track, great facility. Obviously huge market. A lot of open-wheel fans and IndyCar fans. We hope that can come together, but the schedule works for us if it doesn’t.”

Getting Portland done for this portion of the schedule release proved the first thing Miles wanted to get accomplished in the wake of Watkins Glen falling off. Miles did not impose a deadline on getting a Mexico race – if it happens – sorted.

“We have not presented a final deadline for that. It would be a combination of what they would need time-wise to be successful in promoting an event in early August. But from our perspective, it could be added down the road,” he said.

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.