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.