April 9, 2014 — Audio and story by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — photo courtesy Zach Veach — STOCKDALE, OH — In racing, momentum can be a funny thing.
For Andretti Autosport sophomore Zach Veach, he’s hoping ‘funny’ translates to another Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires victory this weekend on the Streets of Long Beach.
Veach, 19, is coming off his first career series victory, earned two weekends ago on the Streets of St. Petersburg during the opening weekend of the Indy Lights season. The Ohio teenager says despite the whirlwind that the last twelve days has been, he did take a day to savor the win.
Just one, mind you.
“I was definitely excited, and even more relieved, that we finally got that win at St. Pete,” Veach said to Race Chaser Online following the huge victory. “But you don’t want to linger on it too much. It was great that we got the victory, but now, it’s all about what’s going to go down at Long Beach. We have to look ahead and be ready for that, and I’m excited to head there this weekend.”
Veach returns to Long Beach after having a lot of speed in his car last spring, but not being able to show it. He was involved in an opening lap crash in last year’s Long Beach 100 after qualifying third, scoring a DNF and not even being able to complete a lap in race trim.
“Last year sucked, I gotta be honest,” Veach laughed. “We had a car that I think was capable of battling for the win and to get caught up there right on the start, it was a real downer for the entire team. I’m excited about this go-round though; I really thought we would be better at Long Beach than St. Pete, so to go down and win at St. Pete, I’m really, really excited about going back to Long Beach now.”
The young talent leads the Indy Lights points for the first time in his career heading into the weekend, but points out that right now, the numbers don’t mean a whole lot besides having a little gold star next to your name for a week or two.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m really excited to be leading the points, but at the start of the season, it really doesn’t matter. This is still anyone’s championship and I don’t believe for a second that we’re in the driver’s seat right now. Hopefully we can get to that point though,” Veach said with a grin.
The young rising star has his eyes set on competing on Sunday afternoons, but right now, knows he’s in the driver’s seat for Andretti Autosport’s Mazda Road to Indy program despite being the youngest driver in the fold.
“It’s funny how I’m the veteran driver on the team, but I’m the youngest too,” Veach remarked. “It’s cool though, really, working with Matt (Brabham) and then with Shelby (Blackstock) and Garrett (Grist) on the Pro Mazda side; it was weird for me at first, but it’s a lot of fun now.”
After going winless last year, the RePlay XD-sponsored driver finally had the weight of not having a win lifted off of his shoulders. So can Veach go out and make it two wins in two starts after going 0-for-12 in 2013? He certainly thinks so.
“It’s like I said, I was more looking forward to Long Beach, and then we won at St. Pete, so…it’s not as if I’m doubly confident or anything, but it really does let your mind slow down and just focus on what you need to do in the moment rather than stressing about whether or not you can. We finally know we can.”
“We got the monkey off our back last time out. Now it’s a matter of just going out and doing again.”
Listen in as lead editors Tom Baker and Jacob Seelman sat down with Zach to talk about his breakthrough win at St. Petersburg and his outlook going into the Grand Prix of Long Beach: