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AJ Foyt Racing adds James Davison to third car for Indy 500, field grows to 35 entries

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For the second consecutive day, another entry has been added for this year’s Indianapolis 500 field.

A.J. Foyt Racing announced Friday that it will add a third entry for the 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing on May 27.

James Davison will drive the No. 33 Chevrolet for Foyt, joining regular AJFR full-time drivers Tony Kanaan and Matheus Leist.

Originally, AJFR didn’t plan to have a third entry in this year’s 500, but when the three partners approached Foyt officials, their 500 gameplan changed.

Davison’s car will be co-owned by A.J. Foyt Racing, in partnership with Jonathan Byrd Racing, Hollinger MotorSport and Belardi Auto Racing.

When he found out Davison was available, AJFR president Larry Foyt decided to go with three cars for the 500 after all.

“We had kind of decided we weren’t going to do (a third car) this year and focus on the 4 and the 14,” Larry Foyt said. “It just all really made sense, and we think it’s something that will really add to our two cars and be a benefit to the team as a whole.”

The Australian driver and his car become the 35th entry for the race, meaning the number of cars that will be bumped from the final 33-car field during qualifying has now climbed to two, with the possibility of at least one or two more entries that could further extrapolate the bump field.

Thursday, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced that J.R. Hildebrand became the 34th entry for the 500.

This will be Davison’s fourth bid to make the 500. He’s qualified in each of his first three tries, with his best finish being 16th in 2014.

Davison was a last-minute replacement in last year’s Indy 500, filling in for the injured Sebastien Bourdais. He started last and was up to fifth with 17 laps remaining before being involved in a late-race accident.

“We’re all very excited for it,” Davison said. “Obviously AJ Foyt Racing has shown fantastic form so far this year, that we’re really looking to capitalize on, and yeah, the month of May can’t come soon enough.

“In 2014 being a single-engine program, we had no reason to really go big and trim and those kind of things. There were 33 cars in the field. Now obviously qualifying is important. It’s not just where you start the race, you’ve got to make it.

“And of course it’s the greatest race in the world. It’s the greatest spectacle in racing. You watch the restarts on TV, it gives you goose bumps. I mean, it’s just such an amazing spectacle. The history of the event is just amazing. And yeah, I just have a massive passion for it. Trying to win the race is my life goal.”

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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.