By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
MADISON, IL — After a top-10 finish at one of the longest ovals, Zach Veach has scored his first oval top five finish with a fifth at Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park.
The No. 26 Group 1001 Honda started 16th based on entrant points but the Andretti Autosport racer moved through the field, cracking the top 10 for the first time on Lap 8 and moved up a place during the first two pit stop sequences. Late in the race, Veach led Laps 238 and 239 but had to stop late for fuel. Still, on a track where passing can be difficult, the former Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race winner managed to get it done around the 1.25 mile oval to get his first top five finish since Long Beach.
“It’s just awesome,” said Veach. “I was really worried, I wanted to finish the last six races in the top 10. That was my goal, when we had to start 16th today I was kind of worried that my goal wasn’t going to happen. I was just hoping for a top 10 let alone a top five so I’m just over the moon.”
Veach moved up one position in the points but to move up that many spots on track, it was an interesting adventure for Veach.
“Honestly our car was really good, it was a timing exercise,” said Veach. The cars that were similar pace like [Marco Andretti] because we had similar setups, he was very difficult to get around but once we got kind of to the stragglers and even there, towards the end our car was just a rocket through 3 and 4 so I was able to even almost stay flat in traffic and get a good run and I found a second lane in Turn 4, actually.
“I pushed out and I thought I was going to hit the wall and then it just caught on this cushion of rubber and I was like ‘wow, this is nice’ so I just started using that every lap since.”
The next Verizon IndyCar Series race is the Grand Prix of Portland on September 2.