BIRMINGHAM, AL - Andretti Autosport K12 driver Zach Veach turned the fastest lap of the Firestone Indy Lights Legacy 100 race at Barber Motorsports Park but that wasn't enough to secure the promising rookie a spot atop the podium.
"Obviously I didn't do as well as I wanted to," said Veach. "We got hit on the start, and that kind of put us into a bind. From that point on the right rear was just slowly going down. The first half of the race we were really quick, but we hit a bit of bad luck and it just wasn't in our book today.
I just want to thank the K12 team for making this weekend happen. I also want to thank my team for putting in a great effort to make this a successful weekend."
Veach opened what seemed like a promising weekend, recording the second fastest time during the opening practice session and third fastest in the afternoon before Saturday qualifications.
The Indy Lights drivers would then have a 45-minute all-skate to compete for the Sunoco Pole Award, which saw Veach record the fifth quick time of the session.
"We got caught on a little bit of bad luck in qualifications," said Veach. "We were sitting around P4 and P5 for most of the morning. On our first tire run, we wanted to be a little more conservative with that set to take into Long Beach. Our second run was supposed to be our big run of the day, but we got out there and the red flag came out.
We didn't really get to put in the laps for that we wanted for that run, but I think that we are still in good shape. It's not where we would like to be, but we are one spot up from where we were last race. Hopefully we can keep this going into long Beach and Indy. I want to thank the guys for working so hard and K12, because this weekend has gone really well so far."
During the race, Veach rolled from the fifth spot and was quickly in a position contemplating a move to third when Gabby Chaves got loose in Turn 1, delaying both drivers positions on the racetrack. The K12 driver was then pressuring his former Andretti Autosport teammate Sage Karam for fourth, pulling alongside as the duo headed towards Turn 7.
Veach had to give way to Karam at Turn 7, which allowed Peter Dempsey to close his gap. The following lap, Veach had a cut tire and came out of Turn 10 trailing Dempsey and Karam.
He then pitted on Lap 18 to replace his tires, which caused him to go a lap down. While the issue was a frustration for Veach, he kept his head down and turned the fastest lap of the race on Lap 31 before the checkered flew on the 40-lap effort.