Fernando Alonso, Wayne Taylor Racing win Rolex 24

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In his second start in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, Fernando Alonso led the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Cadillac DPI team to victory along with Kamui Kobayashi, Jordan Taylor and Renger van Der Zande. Alonso took the lead from Felipe Nasr two laps from the end of a race which was shortened by rain.

Nasr lost the lead to Alonso when he failed to navigate Turn 1 giving up a 1.5-second lead. By the time he got his car under control, Alosno had a 12 second advantage.

Alexander Rossi was the only other driver to finish on the lead lap in third.

The 2019 race was in sharp contrast to last year. One year after the Rolex 24 set a record for the fewest cautions and most laps run of 808, this year’s race was limited to 593 laps – making it the shortest Rolex 24 in history. Two years ago rain also plagued the 2017 edition that was concluded on the 659th lap.

Rain began to fall with 10 hours remaining and never let up.

The first red flag waved during the middle of the night during the 14th hour. A second red flag with just under two hours remaining marked the first time this race was stopped twice. Track officials attempted to dry the track well enough to finish under green, but IMSA was forced to call the event with about 10 minutes left on the clock.

Alonso’s two Rolex 24 attempts were also in sharp contrast. Last year in his inaugural race, he finished 38th overall and 13th in the LMPA2 class. This year, he was flawless, taking the lead for the first time during his first stint during the fourth hour of competition. He cycled in and out of the lead for the remainder of the race.

Alonso joins Phil Hill (1964) and Mario Andretti (1972) as only the third Formula 1 champion to win the Rolex 24.

Alsonso won last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. This May, he will attempt to complete the Triple Crown by winning the Indy 500.

Team Mazda appeared to be the biggest competition to the No. 10 until both the No. 55 and pole winning No. 77 had problems during the sixth hour. The No. 77 team led the field to green Oliver Jarvis after breaking a 26-year-old record. Timo Bernhard was behind the wheel when the car caught fire causing the retirement.

Alex Zanardi’s return to endurance racing got off to a bad start. At the beginning of his first stint, he encountered a problem changing his steering wheel 90 minutes into the race. Zanardi is using a special wheel with hand controls for the car, and the connecting pins were damaged when he attempted to connect it as the car was dropped from the jack. The No. 24 team finished 32nd overall and ninth in class.

Sebastian Saavedra and the No. 18 team won the LMPA2 class along with Scott Mayer, James Dayson and Alex Popow.

Augustus Farfus in the No. 25 won GTLM with co-drivers Bill Auberlen, Alexander Sims and Bruno Spengler.

Christian Engelhart and the No. 11 team won in the GTD class with Rolf Ineichen, Roberto Pampanini and Miles Pavlovic.

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.