By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
It’s been a long time coming for Andretti Autosport Zach Veach to have an all-around strong race performance, finishing fourth in Saturday’s Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The moment his No. 26 Gainbridge Honda rolled off the transporter for the one-day show, Veach was one of the more consistently faster cars out there. It was highlighted with a fifth-place qualifying start, one spot shy of being the fastest Andretti car on the 24-car grid.
Once the race rolled along, that vital starting position played a major role into Veach’s banner night at the 1.5-mile oval. While the rest of the Andretti camp had ECU issues like fourth-place starter Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi, Veach had no major issues during the over 98-minute race.
On a track surface and Firestone tires that proved extremely difficult to make passing maneuvers, Veach was one of the few competitors that was able to properly navigate around traffic.
In the end, the 200-lap race left the 25-year-old smiling as a fourth equaled his best career NTT IndyCar Series finish set at Long Beach in 2018. It was also his first top-five since Gateway and the third of his 37-race INDYCAR career.
More importantly, Veach’s effort starts off on what he hopes is a turnaround season as last year proved to be a horrid campaign, only finishing in the top-10 three times with a seventh at Iowa being his top result.
“Really, really good night here in the Gainbridge Honda,” said Veach, who finished 18th in points a year ago. “I wanted to start 2020 off good because 2019 was so rough, and we came out here to Texas and got a top-four and started fifth. I’m just very happy.”
Starting off on the right note for Veach’s third full-season was definitely key. More so because July will be jam packed with racing as 5 out of the remaining 13 rounds will occur in that span.
“This kind of momentum will be great to go into the Indy GP and hopefully have the season we’ve been needing to have. The guys did an awesome job,” Veach on the momentum. “My engineer Mark Bryant, the car was amazing and all my pit crew: They were awesome for everything, and that played a big part in a race with not many passes. I’m just happy and a big thank you to Andretti Autosport.”
The first of five races to fall in July begins on Independence Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for the running of the GMR Grand Prix. In two previous Indy GP starts, Veach has only mustered a 23rd and 12th.
While Veach scored a pair of eighth-place finishes at the Belle Isle street circuit last year, he’ll hope to score his first top-10 on a road course since Mid-Ohio two years ago next month.