LONG BEACH, Calif – Andretti Autosport should have had all four cars finish in the top seven in Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Instead, they had three in the top six. They’ll take it though.
Alexander Rossi led all but 14 laps in the race en route to the dominating win. But, two other drivers have momentum changing days.
Rookie Zach Veach charged from his 16th starting position to finish a career best fourth in his No. 26 Honda. To get a fourth place run in just his fifth career Verizon IndyCar Series start if impressive. Veach, was pleased coming into this weekend with dual 16th place runs to start the year off. He was happy to bring his car home in one piece in each race. That had him going for just a top 10 this weekend.
He got something even better, a top five.
“(Fourth) feels like a win, to be honest,” said a joyous Veach. “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. 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.”
Marco Andretti started 20th in his No. 98 Honda and gained the most spots in the whole field in advancing 14 positions en route to a sixth place run. That has Andretti with a quiet yet solid start to the year. He finished ninth in St. Pete and 12th in Phoenix.
At St. Pete, he would have had a top five if not for exiting the pits on a late sequence in traffic. Last weekend, he dealt with a bad handling race car and still managed a top 15. Andretti says if he can figure out qualifying, he will get a win.
He’s right too.
He started 18th, 20th and 20th respectively. Look where he’s charged too. Imagine if he started up front.
“We had to just be persistent today.,” a happy Andretti said of his top 10. “Me and the guys, we just stayed in it and didn’t make mistakes. This race just comes down to attrition sometimes. There are so many corners where you can get taken out if you go too deep – that’s what took me out of qualifying yesterday. I keep saying that as soon as we qualify in the top 10, we’re going to win a race.”