LEEDS, Ala – Zach Veach is heading to the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (3 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network) with a ton of momentum. He’s coming off of a career best fourth place finish last Sunday on the streets of Long Beach. Now, he’s racing at the spot of his first career Verizon IndyCar Series start in the Barber Motorsports Park.
See, JR Hildebrand would miss last year’s race at the Barber Motorsports Park, so Veach was called in as a replacement.
That gave him some good momentum on his side.
“I definitely feel we have a lot of momentum on our side after finishing fourth in Long Beach,” Veach said ahead of this weekend’s race. “I honestly can’t wait to be back in the car at Barber and to keep improving. A year ago this weekend, I got the chance to compete in my very first Indy car race at Barber, so it’s going to be nice to be coming back to a track I have a little more experience at than others on the schedule. For me, my main goal is to focus on qualifying. I would really like to start getting higher on the charts for the start of the race. The Group One Thousand One car and crew have been great this year; we’re ready to show that again this weekend.”
So far, so good. But, Veach is doing so while under the weather.
The Andretti Autosport driver is battling a bout with food poisoning. He’s taken reportedly four bags of IV’s so far this weekend. When he’s not in the car, he’s resting on the couch. With being the smallest and lightest driver in the field, and counter that with racing at one of the most physical tracks on the schedule, that could be a dangerous combo for someone battling the flu too.
He’s not letting that affect him though.
“Qualifying felt a little like being inside a washing machine,” said Veach after qualifying on Saturday. “This is one of the toughest days I’ve ever had mentally in a race car. I’m just so thankful. I think we had the speed to get into the top 12 today, I know we got a little luck with (Tony) Kanaan bringing out the red (flag). It’s just good to get that monkey off the back. We left Long Beach saying we wanted to qualify a little better, and we did just that. Hopefully tomorrow when I come back a little more rested, we can make our way further up in the field. There’s so much more I want to develop. My end goal is miles away from where I’m at right now. I have to say, I did enjoy that last run in qualifying. You’ve got someone like (Scott) Dixon in front of you, and he’s not pulling you that bad, or you’re running with (Sebastien) Bourdais… it’s cool to be around that atmosphere. Once you get inside the top 10 in the Verizon IndyCar Series, it’s pretty rarified air. I’m just so thankful and I’m going to keep working. I wasn’t happy until I was winning races in Indy Lights and I’m going to feel the same in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”
Veach, will start 11th in his No. 26 Honda on Sunday. He was 10th, 14th and 15th respectively in practice too.