While his teammate Alexander Rossi landed on top of the podium after a stellar race weekend at Long Beach, young Zach Veach had a quietly superb day, finishing fourth in only his fifth career Verizon IndyCar Series start.
Most of the attention on rookie drivers has been placed on Robert Wickens, and deservedly so. Wickens has had an incredibly fast start to the year, but yesterday was Veach’s day to shine. He started the race in 16th, and ran towards the back half of the top-10 through much of the race.
When all was said and done, though, Veach found himself just on the outside of the podium.
“(Fourth) feels like a win, to be honest,” Veach said post-race. “The crew was pushing me pretty hard at the end to try to get on the podium but… after St. Pete, after Phoenix, we’ve just been chipping away on it and we took a big swing at it today.”
For Veach, it was a long time coming.
He spent two years in IndyCar’s feeder series, the Indy Lights, in 2013 and 2014. His first season wasn’t much to rave about; only one podium finish in 12 starts, but the next year was much different. Three wins and nine podiums during the 14 race season. He finished third in points.
Yet, after a brilliant year, Veach was left without a ride in 2015. He returned to Indy Lights for another season in 2016. That year looks a lot like 2014 on the scorecard. Same amount of wins, only one less podium finish and fourth in points.
Last year, Veach was left again without a ride. He made two starts sporadically during the IndyCar season, which included a run in the Indianapolis 500.
Neither race result was much to brag about, but yesterday’s finish certainly was. He finished directly in front of drivers Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal and last year’s champion Josef Newgarden.
Certainly a strong day for the 23-year-old.
“I’ve got to thank my Group One Thousand One guys, honestly. I kind of made a mishap in qualifying to put us 16th. Today we had great strategy, great stops. They got me to where I could capitalize on it so this is more for them than me.”