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MRTI: Nine nations represented in Road to Indy shootout finalists

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The second annual Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout will feature 17 different drivers from nine different countries, all of whom vying for an entry into next season’s USF2000 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda campaign. Scheduled for December 9-10, the shootout will be held at the Bondurant Racing School.

The full release, including a full list of participants, is below.

 

A young racer’s life will be changed this coming weekend as 17 drivers representing nine nations and four different continents vie for superiority in the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout. The second annual event will take place at the Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix.
A Mazda Scholarship valued at $200,000 is on offer to ensure entry into the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, in 2018. USF2000 is the first rung of the proven and highly acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder which provides Mazda Scholarships at every level to allow talented young drivers to progress all the way from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.
Last year’s inaugural Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship Shootout was won by Florida teenager Oliver Askew, who went on to claim this year’s USF2000 championship title with Cape Motorsports and secure a second Mazda Scholarship which will allow him to graduate onto the next step of the ladder, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, in 2018.
In total, 20 championships were offered Shootout “entry tickets” to award their champions, with an eligibility requirement that drivers be between the ages of 14 and 25 on September 30, 2017. Two drivers earning tickets are unable to attend – Konrad Czaczyk (Formula Tour 1600 Canada) and Luke Wiliams (BRSCC F1600 England). The 17 contestants, listed below with their age, hometown and affiliation, have earned their opportunity to chase one of the most coveted prizes in all of junior open-wheel racing via a worldwide network of official feeder series:
Spencer Brockman, 17, Westport, Conn. – SCCA Formula Atlantic (At-Large Entry determined by Mazda)
Manuel Cabrera, 17, Mexico City, City – Formula Panam (Mexico)
Matthew Cowley, 20, Manchester, England – F1600 Formula F Championship Series
Jake Craig, 20, Mission Viejo, Calif. – At-Large Entry determined by eKartingNews.com
Keith Donegan, 20, Dublin, Ireland – Formula Ford Festival (UK)
Mitch Egner, 25, Victoria, B.C., Canada – Pacific F2000 Championship
Elliot Finlayson, 21, Yorkville, Ill. – SCCA National Championship Runoffs (Formula Enterprises)
Olin Galli, 21, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Selectiva de Kart Petrobras (Brazil)
Aaron Jeansonne, 19, Sulphur, La. – Team USA Scholarship
Jonathan Kotyk, 23, Atlantic Beach, Fla. – Team USA Scholarship
Liam Lawson, 15, Pukekohe, New Zealand -– New Zealand Formula Ford Championship
Ross Martin, 16, Kilmarnock, Scotland – Beatson’s Scottish FF1600 Championship
Niall Murray, 22, Dublin, Ireland – Dawson WAM Northern Ireland Formula Ford 1600 Championship
Jamie Thorburn, 19, Duns, Scotland – Formula Ford 1600 SuperSeries (UK)
Max Vidau, 16, Adelaide, Australia – Australian Formula Ford Championship
Carter Williams, 19, Clovis, Calif. – Formula Car Challenge Presented by Goodyear
Oliver White, 25, Bath, England – Walter Hayes Trophy for Formula Ford 1600 (UK)
The shootout will take place over two days, December 9-10, at the full 1.6-mile road course at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (formerly known as Firebird International Raceway) in Chandler, Ariz. Drivers will compete in a fleet of identically prepared Formula Mazda cars fitted with Cooper tires.
An exhaustive assessment of all 17 drivers will be undertaken by an accomplished panel of judges comprising former IndyCar driver Scott Goodyear, factory Mazda representatives Jonathan Bomarito, Andrew Carbonell and Tom Long, plus inaugural shootout winner Askew and 2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni.
“Oliver Askew is proof of what this event can provide,” said Kyle Kimball, manager of operations for Mazda Motorsports. “He won the Shootout and then went on to win another Mazda Scholarship as the USF2000 champion. The Shootout brings the most talented drivers from around the globe to find who will become the next Mazda scholarship winner, and we can’t wait to see which of these young drivers will prevail.”
The winner of the Shootout will be announced at the conclusion of on-track activities and judging deliberations.
“This year presents another outstanding driver line up for the Shootout,” said Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “All of these drivers have impressed with their talent, and the judges are going to have a difficult decision to make on Sunday.
“This event is very special. It is tremendous to see rising stars from around the world come together, and I have to thank Mazda for its commitment to the next generation of racers.”

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.