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Will Power fastest at Mid-Ohio for his 60th career pole position in IndyCar

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Will Power won the pole position in qualifying for Saturday afternoon’s NTT IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a lap of 1 minute, 6.3 seconds in his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet.

It’s the 60th career pole position for the Team Penske driver, who is IndyCar’s all-time winningest driver on road courses with 28 victories.

“Very pleased obviously,” Power told NBC Sports pit reporter Kelli Stavast. “Always good to see the Verizon 12 Chevy up front.”

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for the full rundown l Group 1 l Group 2

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for starting positions and tire compounds

TODAY’S RACE DETAILS: Info for the Honda Indy 200

Power was fastest in the Group 1 qualifying session as the 13-turn, 2.258-mile circuit seemed to lose grip over the course of qualifying.

After posing the past fastest lap in practice, Ryan-Hunter qualified second as the fastest car in Group 2. It’s the first front row start for the Andretti Autosport driver since he won the pole for the Sept. 16, 2018 season finale at Sonoma (his most recent victory in the series).

Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly and Jack Harvey rounded out the top five in qualifying.

Alexander Rossi was sixth after going off course in Group 2, and rookie Alex Palou (20th) lost his best lap for running through the grass and causing a local yellow. Points leader Scott Dixon (17th) was among the other drivers who struggled with handling in qualifying.

“It’s a very slippery track,” Power said. “It takes rubber a lot over the session, so at the beginning, it was very slippery. That lap still didn’t feel like the tires are in, you’re sliding all over the place. Car felt good, man, I just want to have a great race. That’s what I care about.”

It’s the third pole this season for Power and his series-leading fifth at Mid-Ohio.

Power is seeking his first victory since just over a year ago at Portland. He also is winless in 11 prior starts at Mid-Ohio.

“You got to execute on all fronts,” he said. “Me a as a driver, the strategy and the pit stops. That’s how you win races And if a lucky yellow falls your way, which kinda hasn’t gone our way this year. We’ll see what we can do.”

Dixon entered Mid-Ohio with a chance to wrap up his sixth championship but qualified an uncharacteristic 17th for the opener of a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader after posting top-five speeds in practice.

“We have no ideas what happened,” Dixon told Stavast. “The balance was good this morning. Maybe it was that set of tires, or maybe we missed something.

“Unfortunately, that definitely really hurt us. So we’ll have to look at trying to do something different strategy-wise. It’s tough because it’s a pretty straightforward race.”

The five-time series champion is the defending winner at the circuit in Lexington, Ohio, and also is the series’ winningest driver at Mid-Ohio with six victories. Dixon won after starting 22nd in the 2014 race.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver earlier had recovered from a half-spin Saturday to post the fourth-quickest time in practice.

Pato O’Ward also spun in practiced and qualified 15th after his crew repaired slight damage to his No. 5 Dallara-Chevrolet.

IndyCar qualifying results

1. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:06.3343 (122.543 mph)
2. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:06.7287 (121.819)
3. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:06.5508 (122.144)
4. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:06.8761 (121.550)
5. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 01:06.7690 (121.745)
6. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:07.1856 (120.990)
7. (10) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 01:06.7841 (121.718)
8. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:07.2205 (120.927)
9. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 01:07.0110 (121.305)
10. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:07.2489 (120.876)
11. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:07.0162 (121.296)
12. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 01:07.4491 (120.518)
13. (88) Colton Herta, Honda, 01:07.0212 (121.287)
14. (18) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 01:07.5011 (120.425)
15. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 01:07.0354 (121.261)
16. (7) Oliver Askew, Chevrolet, 01:07.6211 (120.211)
17. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:07.1406 (121.071)
18. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:07.8192 (119.860)
19. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 01:07.2101 (120.946)
20. (55) Alex Palou, Honda, 01:08.1548 (119.270)
21. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 01:07.3890 (120.625)
22. (4) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 01:08.3783 (118.880)
23. (14) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 01:08.5442 (118.592)

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.