COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Zach Veach, one of two NTT IndyCar Series drivers from Ohio, announced on Wednesday he will step away from his Andretti Autosport ride effective immediately after the team did not renew his contract for 2021.
Veach, 25, born in Stockdale (Pike County), has driven Andretti’s No. 26 Honda since 2018, when he signed a three-year contract to run full-time. In a statement, Veach said that after the decision was made he would not return with Andretti next year, he chose to leave his seat for the remaining three races in 2020.
“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,” Veach said. “I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as the prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.”
Veach’s relationship with Andretti Autosport goes back to 2010 when he was a development driver for the organization in lower-level open-wheel racing series. But in three lackluster seasons driving for Andretti at the sport’s top level, Veach never scored a podium finish in 45 races and never finished higher than 15th in the championship standings.
“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,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a statement. “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.”
Indianapolis-based Andretti Autosport, which fields five Indy cars in total, will announce a replacement driver for the No. 26 “in the coming days.” IndyCar will race a doubleheader at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Oct. 2-3 and then finish the season with a street course race in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Oct. 25.
Veach’s best IndyCar finish was 4th, which he scored at Texas Motor Speedway this year and at the 2018 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Other than that 4th at Texas, however, Veach’s best finish in 2020 was 14th. He currently sits 20th in the championship standings out of 21 full-time drivers.
Veach’s departure leaves New Albany’s Graham Rahal, driver of the No. 15 Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, as the only Ohio native on the IndyCar grid for the time being. Pataskala-based team Meyer Shank Racing also fields a car, the No. 60 Honda driven by Englishman Jack Harvey.