In NTT IndyCar Series’ return to action at Texas Motor Speedway last month, Zach Veach kicked off the 2020 campaign strong with a fourth-place finish.
As the Andretti Autosport competitor gets ready for this weekend’s GMR Grand Prix, he took some time to answer a couple questions for POPULAR SPEED.
POPULAR OPEN WHEEL: What are your thoughts looking back on the run that you had at Texas?
ZACH VEACH: I think it was a pretty good way to start the season. We put a lot of work in during the winter. It’s a good way to start the year, and I look forward to getting back to racing every weekend.
POW: It had to be an odd feeling with no fans in the stands. Your reaction to that.
ZACH: Yeah, it was different. It felt like a practice day. Texas is a bit of a unique place with the banking; you’re below the fans so you didn’t really notice too much, but it was definitely lonely in the paddock. We really like the interaction that we get with the fans in hanging out in front of transporters and garages. So not having that friendly reaction every time you’re coming out of the trailer or in the garage was definitely missed.
POW: What do you feel you were missing there at the end to be right up there with the top front runners?
ZACH: I think we had something to be on the podium for sure; we just ran out of laps. We had that last restart and Conor (Daly) kind of jumped it and I had to take an extra lap getting around him so that probably cost me a shot at the podium. But we just ran out of time. We had a much faster car than Josef (Newgarden) did. He had an ill-handling car near the end of the stint so we were waiting for our moment to pounce there. We kind of came to the white flag just as we were getting set to get on Josef’s gearbox.
It is what it is, but anytime you get a top-five in an IndyCar event is almost like a win.
POW: What’s your outlook now as we look towards the rest of the season?
ZACH: I’m hoping to continue what we started. Momentum is important in a start. When you get a good race under your belt, good races seem to be follow just because it’s a weight off your shoulders and a good confidence boost. But the rest of it, we just need to consistently be in the top-10, consistently to put ourselves in position in that something goes right, we can find ourselves in victory lane.
POW: The next race on the schedule is the Indianapolis road course. What’s the biggest challenge of that infield course?
ZACH: I think the biggest thing for us is getting back on a road course. Texas was a bit unique with it being the first race back, but the ovals are very easy to get back up to speed. But all of us the last time that we were in a car would be the week before St. Pete at Sebring (for Spring Training). It’s going to be take a lot to take in getting back to the Indy GP.
As a team, we’ve struggled there a lot the last few years. we’ve changed a lot in a car as far as the set-up goes, so we’re excited to get out there and see if it’s the right decision.
POW: Beyond Indianapolis, what track are you most looking forward to?
ZACH: It was Detroit, but that’s not happening; it’ll have to wait till next season. Out of the stuff that we’re going to do, I’m excited to get to Gateway.
POW: Andretti Autosport has a wide spread of teammates with varying degrees of experience. How is it having your teammates to lean on being one of the younger drivers in the sport?
ZACH: It’s definitely helpful. I think one of the guys that I lean on is Ryan Hunter-Reay. Him and I tend to have similar driving styles. A lot of times he’ll have the answers to questions that I have, which his very helpful. It’s an advantage to have five other teammates, but it’s also a lot to take in because everyone has different approaches. So you just have to feel the room and know what your teammates like. Because for example if (Alexander) Rossi says the car is a little loose, it’s really loose for me and Ryan. So you just need to get a feel for what each teammate likes.
POW: Lastly, it’s been like an extended off-season with the quarantine. So how have you been spending your time?
ZACH: I’ve just been working on my camper van. My girlfriend and I bought a Pro Master, so basically building a tiny home in it. We’re 90% done, just have little things to do like trimming, so that’s one of the nice things about the break is it’s given us time to get it done. So once the season slows down and we have some time, we can head out west and live out of the thing for a couple months during the winter.