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President Donald Trump awards Medal of Freedom to Roger Penske

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President Donald Trump awarded car owner Roger Penske the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, Thursday in a ceremony at the White House.

“A legend in so many ways,” President Trump said of Penske.

The Medal of Freedom was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and is awarded to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

“Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom is really something special,” Penske said during the White House ceremony, “and to me it means more than any business success or motorsports trophy.”

Others who have been awarded the Medal of Freedom since 2018 by President Trump include Tiger Woods, Elvis Presley, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, former NFL great Roger Staubach and former NBA greats Bob Cousy and Jerry West.

Team Penske has recorded 545 major race wins, 621 pole positions and 36 championships. His teams have won the Indianapolis 500 a record 18 times. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January. His IndyCar team won the championship this year with Josef Newgarden. Team Penske has two drivers, reigning series champion Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney, in the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup playoffs.

Penske is the founder and chairman of Penske Corp., which manages businesses with consolidated revenues of more than $32 billion and employs more than 64,000 people worldwide.

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.