April 11 in Motorsports History: Barber welcomes IndyCar Series

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The South might be traditionally associated with NASCAR racing, but just outside Birmingham, Alabama, is a picturesque 16-turn road course that firmly has established itself as a staple of the IndyCar calendar.

Barber Motorsports Park opened in 2003, and the IndyCar Series first conducted test sessions at the facility in October 2007 and March 2009. On June 27, 2009, it was announced that the facility would be added to the IndyCar calendar in 2010.

Helio Castroneves celebrates after winning the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)

The April 11, 2010 race at the facility was an immediate success with an estimated crowd of 55,000. Will Power won the pole position and was seeking his third consecutive victory after winning at Sao Paulo and St. Petersburg.

However, it would be Power’s teammate celebrating. Helio Castroneves took the lead from Marco Andretti with nine laps remaining and held off Scott Dixon in a two-lap dash to the finish to collect his first victory of the season.

Castroneves’ victory was the 23rd of his career, and he passed Emerson Fittipaldi as the winningest Brazilian in IndyCar history.

The victory was also his first as a father. In an emotional moment, he held his daughter, Mikaella, in victory lane.

“I want her to share this moment with me,” Castroneves told Versus following the race. “I wanted it sooner than later, and she’s certainly here.”

Castroneves went on to win twice more in 2010 and finished fourth in the points standings.

Also on this date:

1993: Ayrton Senna won the European Grand Prix at England’s Donington Park circuit. Driving from fifth to first in the opening lap, Senna dominated the 76-lap event, winning by a margin of 1 minute, 29.199 seconds over Damon Hill.

1999: Mika Hakkinen won the Grand Prix of Brazil at Interlagos, the first of five victories in his championship season.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
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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.