WEST ALLIS, Wis. – official release — Indy Lights photo — An enthralling battle for this year’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires title honors tightened considerably as a result of an opportunistic victory in today’s Milwaukee Mile 100 by Zach Veach.
The 19-year-old from Stockdale, Ohio, seemed set to finish second to Andretti Autosport teammate Matthew Brabham, who passed him for the lead on lap 40 and edged clear, only for Veach to be handed a lifeline when Brazilian rookie Luiz Razia crashed out of fourth place with eight laps remaining at The Milwaukee Mile.
Veach, who started from the pole in the No. 26 RePLAY XD/The Young Marines/Ads IT Solutions/ Zakosi Data Back Up Dallara and led comfortably in the early stages, knew full well the restart would provide his best and perhaps only opportunity to redress the balance. He grasped it with both hands. When Brabham defended to the inside on the entry to turn one at the restart with just four laps remaining, Veach stuck to his guns, rode around the outside and completed the pass on the exit of turn two leading onto the back straightaway.
“My engineer told me we need those points so push and I was just trying to get the best result I could. I think I jumped Matt a little bit and he got a little worried and protected the inside,” Veach said. “I got lucky to drive around the outside. I just pushed as hard as I could and I am just so happy to have the RePlay XD car in victory lane here. [On taking the lead] Getting it is one thing and keeping it is another and we did just that. We are in the championship chase and we are going to be fighting hard to take it home in Sonoma.”
The maneuver held huge championship implications. Without it, Veach would have trailed series leader Gabby Chaves – who finished third for Belardi Auto Racing – by 17 points with just two races remaining. By completing the pass and securing his third win of the season – and first since Barber Motorsports Park in April – Veach has now moved within seven points (466-459) going into the final double-header on the road course at Sonoma Raceway in California.
The two Andretti cars were effectively in a race of their own as series leader Chaves struggled with a general lack of grip. The Colombian-American withstood pressure from Razia virtually throughout the 100-lap race until Razia abruptly lost control and crashed in turn two.
Rookie Scott Anderson, who had been closing on the pair, profited from Razia’s misfortune to earn his best finish thus far, fourth, for Fan Force United, while the other title hopeful, Englishman Jack Harvey, was close behind in fifth for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian.