NEWTON, IA - It would be hard to argue that Andretti Autosport teammates Zach Veach and Carlos Munoz weren't attached at the hip this weekend at Iowa Speedway. The duo led the two practice sessions in advance of the Sukup 100 and finished side-by-side at the checkered flag. When the race started, both drivers slid the length of the field to finish seventh and eight, respectively, due to ill handling racecars.
We just had to hold on to it until the end. I know the Andretti [Autosport] guys will get it figured out and we'll be squared away for Pocono. It's a great team and something like this-it happens. We'll rebound from it and go win Pocono for the K12 team."
The Firestone Indy Lights drivers experienced something that was very new to them-the entire Iowa Speedway race-weekend schedule occurred in exactly one day. The compacted schedule, which included two practice sessions, two qualifying laps and a 115-lap race, was completed by dusk on Sat., June 22. The demanding agenda was a mental and physical test for the young drivers.
Undeterred, the rookie driver Veach turned his quickest lap of the weekend in his K12 machine during opening practice, with a time of 159.219, good enough for second on the speed charts. During the second session, Veach sat atop the charts until the final minutes when his teammate, Munoz, bested him, putting them first and second for the second straight session.
During qualifications, the pair was expected to start one-two until Jack Hawksworth left Veach in third for the start of the Sukup 100. His starting position would match his qualifying effort from the Streets of Long Beach, his second-best start of the 2013 season.
When the green flag flew for the start of the race, Veach was making his third start on the high-banked oval of Iowa Speedway's the 7/8-mile oval. While Veach jumped out to an early lead at The Milwaukee Mile the weekend before, this weekend he instead was regulated towards the back of the field within the first 15 laps of the race due to an ill-handling car.
He stayed steady in the sixth position and moved up to fifth by Lap 47. By Lap 94, he had fallen back to sixth and when the checkered flew, he was credited with a seventh-place finish. His result was his third top-10 finish at Iowa, following a sixth-place finish in 2012 in the Star Mazda Championship (Now Pro Mazda Championship) and his fifth-place finish in 2010 in the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda.
With his seventh place result at Iowa Speedway this weekend, Veach sits seventh in the series points standings. On the season, he has three top-five finishes, including a runner-up starting spot at The Milwaukee Mile, his career-best Indy Lights starting position. At The Milwaukee Mile, Veach also led his career first laps in Indy Lights, guiding the field for a total of 56 laps before finishing third, his first career Indy lights podium result.
Tune in next weekend for the airing of the Sukup 100 race, which will be broadcast nationally on NBC Sports Network at 11 p.m. (ET) on June 28.
The newly high school graduated Veach will have his first weekend off in some time before returning to the racetrack for his inaugural visit to the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway. Pocono, also known as the Tricky Triangle, is a superspeedway located in the Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Indy Lights will be making the first start there since 1989, where the series-then known as the CART American Racing Series-last raced.
The weekend schedule will follow a similar format as Iowa Speedway in having the Firestone Indy Lights on-track activity all in one day. Practice is set to begin on Sat., July 6 at 9:00 a.m. with one additional practice session later in the day. The race for the Sonoco Pole Award will be at 1:30 p.m. following by the 40-lap race at 4:00 p.m. ET. The race will be tape-delayed and shown nationally on NBC Sports Network. For exact times, please check local listings.