Zach Veach’s rookie season in the Verizon IndyCar Series has very much been a learning experience, especially considering that he only ran two races in 2017 – at Barber Motorsports Park (subbing for the injured JR Hildebrand at Ed Carpenter Racing) and the Indianapolis 500.
That learning curve was been highlighted by only one top ten finish in the first 11 races of 2018, a fourth at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, although he has been improving as the year went on – strong showings at Texas Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway saw him run inside the top 10 before wall contact hamstrung his efforts in both races.
However, entering Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park, Veach was on a streak of three top 10s in a row – seventh at the Honda Indy Toronto, 10th at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, and sixth at the ABC Supply 500.
And Saturday night at Gateway may have been his best race of the year. Starting 16th, Veach was immediately on the charge and worked his way up to 10th in the opening laps.
He continued to methodically work his way forward, cracking the top five in the second half of the race and battling with the lead group in the final stint. He also led his first laps in an IndyCar race during a cycle of pit stops.
Veach eventually finished fifth, his second top five of the year, to extend his top 10 streak to four in a row. And with momentum on his side now, Veach is eager to keep things going.
“I really wish we could go back to St. Petersburg right now and start this season over,” he quipped after the race while discussing his progress. “I’ve got to give credit to my Group 1001 guys and, of course, my Andretti Autosport teammates. Those guys have helped me so much this year, just teaching me little by little. It’s finally starting to come together and I’m just so thankful for that.”
Veach enters the final two races of the season ranked 15th in the standings.
The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.
IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.
This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.
INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists
IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.
“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.
“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.