IndyCar: First lap of Portland Grand Prix starts with big crash, Andretti lands upside down

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PORTLAND, Oregon – The start of Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland has begun with a real bang.

Seven drivers were involved in a Turn 3 crash on the opening lap. James Hinchcliffe and Zach Veach made the initial contact, then collected Sebastien Bourdais, Graham Rahal, Ed Jones and the worst for the wear, Marco Andretti, whose car wound up on its side, almost completely upside down.

Rescue workers righted the car and Andretti was able to climb out uninjured. In fact, all drivers involved were unhurt.

“I was a little worried about my head, that was a little scary, but we’re good to go,” Andretti told the IndyCar Radio Network.

Scott Dixon has fallen to 21st place after missing an opening lap crash, but was not involved.

But perhaps the biggest victim of the crash was Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon. Dixon’s car was hit hard in the rear but suffered only minor damage.

Dixon started the day with a 26-point lead over Alexander Rossi. But following the Lap 1 incident, Dixon has mathematically dropped out of the lead – he restarted in 21st place – and now trails Rossi by 14 points as the race resumed.

On Lap 8, shortly after the restart, pole sitter Will Power unexpectedly slowed, allowing several cars to pass him and allowed Alexander Rossi to grab the lead. Power fell all the way back to 12th position — the problem appears to be a first gear issue — but he’s trying to work his way back up the pack.

Still, this is a 105-lap race on the 1.964-mile permanent road course, so look for a lot of other action still to come.

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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.