What IndyCar drivers said after Saturday’s race at Mid-Ohio

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A roundup of quotes and social media posts from NTT IndyCar Series drivers Saturday after the opener of the doubleheader race weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where Will Power won for the first time and the first time this season:

1st – Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet):  “We’ve had a pretty trying year. Everyone really has, with COVID and all the social distancing that we’ve had this year. The fact we are out here racing and that fact that we have some fans here (in Mid-Ohio) is great. This is what we love to do – we love to drive and we love to entertain. But it’s great to have the Verizon Chevrolet in victory lane. This is probably the first race in 10 years that I’ve just gone hard the whole time. So many other races, we try and save fuel and play the strategy game, and a lot of times it just doesn’t work out. Today, we said, ‘Let’s just go hard.’ We said let’s just go hard and use my race pace and see what happens – and we won the race. This was just a race to put down good laps after good laps. It was just a flawless day and a flawless race. The whole Verizon team did a great job. It’s great to see Verizon in Victory Lane again, because it’s been awhile. It’s also great to finally win at Mid-Ohio – I’m over the moon about that.”

2nd – Josef Newgarden (No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a pretty straightforward day. Where we started is where we finished with the PPG Chevrolet. It was good to get by Ryan (Hunter-Reay) right there at the beginning of the race, and that helped us, for sure. But congrats to Will (Power) – he is still Will Power. He’s been knocked down a little bit this year, but he drove really well, and that was a clinic he put on out there today. I’m really happy for him, but we were just a couple of tenths slower than him all day long today. I could kind of tell we were fighting for second today. Team Chevy – one-two for us – so that’s good for them, and I’m proud of that. We just need to be a little better. We picked up some good points today, which is good.”

3rd – Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda): “Yeah, it’s good. We just haven’t had a lot of things go our way. I don’t think we’ve had luck, but we haven’t had pace, either. We’re just really trying to go out and make the most of each opportunity we have for the rest of this year. The 27 NAPA/AutoNation guys did a great job. The car was good. Had we been able to clear Ryan (Hunter-Reay) a bit sooner and get Josef (Newgarden), we could have had a shot at it. The car’s pace was really good. Regardless, it wasn’t meant to be. Starting P6 was always going to be a bit of a challenge, but nonetheless it was a good day for us, and we get to do it all again tomorrow.”


4th – Graham Rahal (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “It was super-hot. It’s a good thing it wasn’t a 90-degree July day. I’m awfully proud of the United Rentals guys. I thought our strategy was great, and the car was very good in race trim. I think we were a little quicker than (Josef) Newgarden and (Alexander) Rossi, but I got held up by (Simon) Pagenaud there coming out of the pits on that last stop or otherwise I think we had him (Rossi). I thought we had a good opportunity there to get Alex, but all in all, it was a great run for us. It feels good to get a good result after St. Louis, which was kind of a bruiser. Our guys did a wonderful job in the pits. The last few races, they’ve been lightning fast. We’ve just got to keep at it. It was a tough day. Tomorrow is going to be tougher. Guys are going to fall out of the saddle tomorrow. That is physical. It is hot, there’s not a lot of air, and it was dirty. Tomorrow will be a bruiser. We switch over to the Fifth Third Bank car, so we’re excited about that switch-over. And we raised a lot of money for Turns for Troops today, so all in all, a good day.”

5th – Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We were just missing a little bit of grip today, which was unfortunate. We were sliding around all day, especially that last stint. But it was close, we just missed it on the pit cycle there with the 27. We came out just behind [Alexander Rossi] and then I was fighting it out with Rosenqvist from there. I have no idea how Rahal got up there so it must have been through the pit cycle. We need to do some things to the car for tomorrow’s race because I was speeding around out there for sure. Hopefully we get this 28 DHL Honda further up front tomorrow.”

6th – Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It was a good race, for sure, starting P7 with a P6 finish for the NTT DATA team. It was good points, as well, but I’m a little disappointed because we had good speed on the reds in the beginning. I could have gotten around a few more guys, I think, and could have been a bit better on the pits than I did. I made a little slip there, but we have more potential in the car, and we’re looking to show that tomorrow.”

7th – Jack Harvey (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda): “Really solid day for the Meyer Shank Racing guys. We started fifth and went on a bit of a bold strategy by starting on reds, which was quite a bit of a workout. After that, I thought we were pretty fast, to be honest. After today, we’re feeling pretty good about tomorrow’s race, but hopefully we can finish even better than today.”

8th – Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “Good race. I struggled a little bit at the beginning to get around slower traffic. Once I figured it out, it was really enjoyable. It definitely wasn’t a perfect race, but I’m happy with what we made of it and the speed we had. I think we can do even better in qualifying tomorrow, which will make the race easier.”

 

9th – Colton Herta (No. 88 Captstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda): “It was a solid recovery drive. I think we were on for a better race, but some stuff didn’t fall our way, and it was enough to push us into the back and we got behind some guys that we had to pass in our middle stint. Unfortunately, that’s how it goes. I wish we could’ve had clean track and we had the pace, but the good thing is that we have another race tomorrow.”

10th — Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It’s was just OK for us today in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda. It just didn’t play out the way we thought it would. We went with a cautious move and made sure we ran the red tires first based on what we saw in qualifying. I guess looking back maybe we should have gone the other way, but who knows? Then we got caught up with (Colton) Herta on the pit exit, and I’m not sure what happened there or why he slowed up or whatever, but I thought we might have broken the front end after that. I hit him pretty hard, but I guess at the end of the day we made up seven or so spots, and that’s a small win.”

11th — Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “Yeah, we had a really messy day today. Not starting toward the front doesn’t make your life any easier. We had some clutch issues in the pits, which caused us to stall. That made it really difficult for us to get out of the box. We made up as much time as we could on track. We were very fast, and I think the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet was one of the best cars out there. We just didn’t quite perfect the little things that get you to the front today. We will work on that for tomorrow, and we should have a good race.”

12th — Alex Palou (No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda): “It was a tough day. Things went really well in practice this morning. I was very confident and comfortable with the No. 55 Guaranteed Rate car. Then in qualifying, the first two laps with the blacks were really good. I was P1 at the time, but I went off track and broke the underwing, so that ruined our run on the alternate Firestone tire. Starting 20th , there wasn’t a lot we could do. It was a difficult race just because we were quick but couldn’t overtake much. On the positive side, we gained the most positions of all drivers. At the end of the day, I don’t think there was much more we could do. It was tough, but we have another chance tomorrow to do better.”

13th — Conor Daly (No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “We had a really good start, got up to third, which was nice. We struggled with the balance a little bit, but once we settled into fourth, we held our position. It was tough to nail the times we needed on the out laps. Running out of fuel, these things happen sometimes. It was a shame because we would have been in the top 10. Hopefully we can work on some race pace for tomorrow, and thankfully we have another day.”

14th — Santino Ferrucci (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “It was a very physical race. We had a really good start, and the SealMaster crew did a good job in the pits. We tried some things with the setup in practice this morning, but it’s hard with minimal track time. We just have to focus on tomorrow and get the car in the top 10.”

15th — Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It hasn’t been a great day, to be honest. We struggled a lot in qualifying, and we’re not really sure why. The car felt decent, but our lap time just wasn’t there and on the reds, especially. We need to dig into that tonight and see if we find something for tomorrow. There might be some rain, as well, tomorrow, which will turn everything upside down. We definitely have some things to improve on for qualifying. For the race, starting from the back is always difficult. I think we had a decent race and we moved forward, but P15 is not what we’re here for. We will keep pushing, and tomorrow is a new day and a new chance for qualifying and the race. We look forward to fighting back and have a good day tomorrow.”

16th — Max Chilton (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “It was a tough race for us, honestly. We had a fairly decent run at qualifying earlier today, finishing sixth in our group and just barely missing out on a top-10 start for the Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet in Race 1. We lost a few spots at the start of the race, and then after that it was just tough to get around anyone and get those positions back. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t go forward like we would’ve liked, and we definitely have some things to look at tonight. But thankfully we get another chance tomorrow to do it all again, and we’ve already shown in qualifying that we have the speed to be battling with the guys in the top 10.”

17th — Takuma Sato (No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Honda): “It was a tough race and a lot of hard work but didn’t really reflect on the result, which is a shame. There was actually no drama; it was a caution-free race. Strategy-wise, we tried to gain back the positions but were just not quite there. We need to work on it for tomorrow. It was hot, we sweat and lost a lot of pounds and weight. We will have a good recovery tonight and hopefully be OK for tomorrow.”

18th — Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “Frustrating day for the No. 22 DXC Technology Chevrolet. We had some good pace, but with no cautions and the mistake at the beginning of the race, it was hard to make up the track position. Just spun out and stalled the car and couldn’t get it refired. We tried to short pit and gain some track position, but without any cautions, there wasn’t much else we could do. Hopefully, we can go out there tomorrow and do better.”

19th — Oliver Askew (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “It was a tough day for the entire team. You’re always going into the race on your back foot when you don’t qualify toward the front. The No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet felt strong during the race, but it’s always tough to pass at Mid-Ohio and we just couldn’t make up ground. The entire team will put in the work tonight to figure out how we can be better and faster tomorrow. Looking forward to getting another shot at it.”

20th — Zach Veach (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “The race started off really well for us. The first stint we were moving forward and had really good pace. Once we threw the Firestone blacks on, we really just suffered with a loose car. I think our setup favored the reds. As the track progressed, the front kept gripping up more and more, making the rear more and more of a problem. It was just too loose throughout the day, just really hard to keep going forward after that. It was an extremely physical race, too. Not too many tracks make me feel like I’m 5’4”, but this is one place that is really, really tough when you’re small in one of these things.”

21st — Charlie Kimball (No. 4 Tresiba / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It was a really tough day, honestly. We missed it a little bit in qualifying, and I feel like we missed it a lot in the race. The 14 car looked a little more competitive in the race, so we’ll look at what they did and come up with some ideas. The nice thing is that we get to do it all again tomorrow, so I have a lot of faith in the No. 4 AJ Foyt Racing crew. We just have to sit down, put all our heads together and come up with something to start tomorrow.”

22nd — Dalton Kellett (No. 14 K-Line USA / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Not the overall finishing position we’d like, but I think we found some easy time to gain in qualifying for tomorrow. So, hopefully we should be able to qualify a little further up the grid, and that will definitely make it a little easier because when you’re starting at the back there, by the end of the first lap you’re already a significant chunk behind the leaders and it’s a short lap. So, then with the pit cycles, you end up kind of risking going a lap down and getting caught in a pack that’s at a different speed than you, so that can be a bit difficult. So, really the goal for tomorrow is qualifying further up. That will make our lives easier and keep working on the car. I think we’ve made the car better from practice to qualifying to the race and definitely learned some good lessons today that we can take into tomorrow.”

23rd — Marco Andretti (No. 98 Surgere / Curb Honda): “I think the 98 car really had potential today. Our qualifying didn’t quite show our speed. Another lap, and we could have broken the top six. But I think we could have done something from 11th. The race was kind of wasted from the start. We had a mistake with the rear tires, and with the impound rule, the penalty would have been too great if we had fixed it. So, we took the green and hoped to make the best out of it. We were able to gain a couple spots. I held on as long as I could. But we had to pit too far off strategy. It put us into a fuel saving race after already dropping back.”

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.