By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — Zach Veach is ready.
After racing on all three steps of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder system, the Stockdale, Ohio native will begin his first full season in the Verizon IndyCar Series on Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Veach has driven the track in all three MRTI championships, winning in 2014 in Indy Lights. For 2018 he’s competing for Andretti Autosport, a team he drove for in all three MRTI championships.
The weekend started off positively.
“The first half session went really well, I think we were in the top five until the halfway mark,” Veach told Motorsports Tribune.
“When we put our second set of new tires on we just went the completely wrong way with the car. Anytime you lose a half second with a new set of tires kind of shows the direction you went but that’s the point of this first session is just to try things like that.
“I think we’re off to a great start, the speed we had out of the box was good for me, I felt really good for that so we just have to keep progressing.”
For Veach, one of the bigger differences isn’t necessarily track time, but when that track time is. As a feeder series driver, you’re driving at the earliest times and are acting as a street sweeper for the upper classes of cars. The work before getting to the track then takes priority.
“The preparation that goes into an IndyCar event is tenfold than an Indy Lights weekend was,” said Veach. “So it’s processing a lot of information which is nice. I’ve always been the type that the more you feed me, the more I grow so this has been perfect for me.”
Veach was 16th in the first session out of 24 cars and 18th in the second session. His fastest lap for the day was a 1 minute, 1.8423 second lap around the 1.8 mile track, just over one second off the fastest lap of the day by teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay.