IndyCar, Barber Motorsports Park

Zach Veach wins Race 1 of Indy Lights weekend at Barber

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Starting from the pole position, Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach led all 30 laps in today’s Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires event at Barber Motorsports Park and won by a margin of 3.8 seconds over GP2 veteran Luiz Razia of Brazil.

Gabby Chaves, who won the most recent Lights race two weeks ago at Long Beach, started alongside Veach on the front row but instead made contact with Belardi Auto Racing teammate Alex Baron in Turn 1 and sent the latter off track.

Both cars kept going after the incident but Chaves was never the same as he ultimately slipped to a sixth-place finish. Meanwhile, Baron shook off his first-lap run-in and charged all the way to fifth at the checkered flag.

Meanwhile up front, Veach was able to slowly build a gap over Razia that proved too large to overcome as the American claimed his second Lights win after taking the season opener in St. Petersburg.

“We were very happy to use our pole to an advantage, as we didn’t get that opportunity in Long Beach,” Veach said to the IMS Radio Network. “But it was a great car to drive.

“I really didn’t know what was going on [in Turn 1]. I saw a lot of things moving around in my mirrors and I just kind of prayed that I didn’t get swept up into it. But this car was easy to drive, it was really consistent, and I’m excited to [run another race] tomorrow.”

As for Razia, he was able to secure his first Lights podium after finishing fifth in the season’s first two events. Following Long Beach, he taped pictures of that race’s group of podium finishers – Chaves, Veach, and Andretti’s Matthew Brabham – on a mirror for motivation.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was able to get two of their men on the podium, with Razia’s runner-up and Jack Harvey’s third-place finish (he was five seconds off of Veach’s pace). Brabham was fourth, 9.5 seconds behind Veach.

Veach now holds a 26-point lead in the Lights championship over Chaves going into tomorrow’s second race at Barber. That race will start at 1 p.m. ET and will be shown on NBCSN at 5:30 p.m. ET following coverage of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama for the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.