In his fifth appearance on the results sheet for a Verizon IndyCar Series race, Zach Veach reached a new level by finishing just one spot off the podium at the 2018 edition of the storied Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The Ohio native slashed his finishing position of 16th at the first two races of the year considerably when he took the checkered flag 10.1050 seconds after Alexander Rossi secured the victory.
With finishes of 19th at Barber Motorsports Park and 26th in his Indianapolis 500 debut last year being the only other entries on his IndyCar resume, Veach’s Long Beach performance marks a significant moment in his young career.
“(Fourth) feels like a win, to be honest,” Veach said after the 85-lap Long Beach event.
“The crew was pushing me pretty hard at the end to try to get on the podium but after St. Pete and after Phoenix, we’ve just been chipping away on it and we took a big swing at it today.”
Veach proved to be the fastest of IndyCar’s rookie class of seven drivers early in the weekend as he concluded both of Friday’s of 45-minute practice sessions with the 13th-fastest laps, slotting in one spot better than St. Petersburg standout Robert Wickens on both occasions.
A meeting with the wall during qualifying on Saturday led to a 16th-place starting position for Veach. Advancing the 12 positions required a team effort, though the impact of the four full-course caution periods during the relatively messy race didn’t hurt.
“I’ve got to thank my Group One Thousand One guys, honestly,” Veach continued.
“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.”
One week after racing to fourth in Southern California, Veach will return to Barber, the site of his IndyCar debut a year ago, with hopes of continuing the momentum garnered at Long Beach.