The sun has set on IndyCar racing at Phoenix, at least for the foreseeable future. Photo: Getty Images

Report — Phoenix will not be on 2019 IndyCar schedule

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The sun has set on INDYCAR continuing to race in the Valley of the Sun at ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix International Raceway).

ISM Raceway president Bryan R. Sperber announced late Friday afternoon that the Avondale, Arizona track (in suburban Phoenix) will not host a Verizon IndyCar Series race in 2019 and potentially beyond.

Michael Knight ofThe Arizona Republic first reported the story, followed by an official statement from Sperber:

“We have enjoyed having INDYCAR at our venue for the full three years of our agreement. The series officials and teams have been tremendous partners.

“INDYCAR will not be on our schedule in 2019, we’re currently taking a pause to review schedule options for the future. INDYCAR is currently discussing with International Speedway Corporation (ISC) other potential venues and opportunities.

“We’d like INDYCAR to be on our calendar in the coming years, and we will work with INDYCAR to find a date that will help deliver a successful event.”

INDYCAR and previous open-wheel series have raced at the 1.022-mile short track since 1964:

* 1964-1978 as part of the AAA/USAC Champ Car Series

* 1979-1995 as part of the CART/Champ Car World Series

* 1996-2005 as part of the Verizon IndyCar Series

* 2016-2018 – The IndyCar series returned to ISM Raceway after a 10-year absence, However, poor attendance for each of the three years prompted both sides to not extend the three-year agreement that expired after this year’s April race.

Here’s the official INDYCAR statement:

“INDYCAR has enjoyed its time racing at ISM Raceway, but attendance in the past three years has been disappointing despite considerable investment from both sides.

“Track president Bryan Sperber and his team have been terrific partners and are developing a beautiful facility, and IndyCar will reconnect with them when conditions are right for both parties.

“Meanwhile, INDYCAR is moving forward with building a terrific schedule for the 2019 season.”

Because ISM Raceway is owned by International Speedway Corporation, speculation has already begun as to what other ISC tracks INDYCAR may seek to hold races at.

Among potential ISC properties that could host ISC events – and some already have in the past – include Chicagoland Speedway, Watkins Glen Intentional, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Auto Club Speedway and Richmond Raceway.

Other ISC facilities include Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Martinsville Speedway and Darlington Raceway.

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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.