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A.J. Foyt named grand marshal of this weekend’s air race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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A.J. Foyt spent decades flying around racetracks across the U.S. as a driver.

Now, the legendary 83-year-old Foyt – the first of three drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times – will once again be overseeing flying of a different kind around Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Foyt on Tuesday was named grand marshal for this weekend’s Red Bull Air Race World Championship event at IMS. It will mark the third straight year the Speedway has hosted the Air Race.

Foyt will meet all entered pilots before the race and then give a competition command from Race Control to get the flying going.

A.J. Foyt will be grand marshal of the air race this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Photo: IndyCar.

“I’m honored that IMS asked me to be the grand marshal for the air races,” Foyt said in a media release. “Any time I can do something at the Speedway, I’m happy to do it because I always enjoy it.

“I owe a lot to the Speedway – that is what made me. It will be my first time to see a Red Bull Air Race, which is something that I’m really looking forward to. I had planned to go last year, but something came up and I couldn’t make it.

“I would like to see one before I pass on. I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, this would be on it.”

Foyt will travel from his Houston-area home to ride herd over the high-flying weekend, where pilots will roar around pylons suspended in the air to record the quickest time possible.

“A.J. Foyt is synonymous with excellence and speed at Indianapolis, so we’re happy to welcome him to the Speedway for this weekend featuring the best pilots and aerial competition in the world,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a statement. “A.J. always graciously says that IMS made him, and not the other way around.

“But A.J.’s passion for and success in the Indy 500 add significantly to IMS lore, and it’s always special for everyone to have him back home again in Indiana for any event.”

Practice and qualifying for the race will take place on Saturday, with actual racing on Sunday.

Pilots in the Master Class and Challenger Class fly against the clock at 200 mph, just 50 feet off the ground, through a course marked by 82-foot-tall Air Pylons over the IMS infield.

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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.