Andretti To Test Zach Veach In Indy Lights UPDATE Andretti Autosport announced today they will test Star Mazda Championship driver Zach Veach in one of the team's Firestone Indy Lights cars on Aug., 13 at Putnam Park Raceway.
"We're always impressed with Zach and how he handles himself both on and off the track," said Michael Andretti, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Andretti Autosport. "We've been working with him for a couple years now and he has shown great promise. I think he will adapt well to the (Firestone) Indy Lights car; this test is the next step for him as he works his way up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder and the team and I look forward to being a part of his development."
Veach currently competes full-time in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear with Andretti Autosport and will continue his quest for the championship title in his K12 Mazda at the three remaining races on his schedule: the Grand Prix of Baltimore, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and Road Atlanta. The 17-year-old from Stockdale, Ohio, Veach started 2012 off by capturing the Formula Car Challenge Winter Series Championship by using four race wins and four pole positions to secure the series title. During the regular Star Mazda season, Veach has six top-10 finishes and a runner-up result on the Streets of Toronto, putting him tenth in the championship points.
"I'm beyond excited and thankful for this amazing opportunity to test the Indy Lights car," said Veach. "It's such an honor to be part of the Andretti Autosport family and I'm as committed as ever to make it through the full Mazda Road to Indy ladder with an ultimate goal of reaching the IZOD IndyCar Series and qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. Testing the Indy Lights car is a great step to achieve my dream, and I can't thank the team, K12 and all of my partners enough for the continued support of me and my career."
Veach joined Andretti Autosport in 2010 for the USF2000 National Championship, where he finished fifth in the overall driver championship points, despite starting the season two races behind the rest of the field. He returned to Andretti Autosport in 2011 and secured the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 Winterfest Championship, with two race wins and three pole positions. During the regular USF2000 season, he finished fourth, helping Andretti Autosport secure the team championship title for the second consecutive year with one win, five podiums and three pole positions.
ESPN The Magazine recently named Veach a "NEXT" athlete in motorsports, is one of CNN's "Intriguing People," as well as being nominated for the Sports Illustrated "Sports Kid of the Year" award. He also keeps an active pace off the racetrack working to combat distracted driving and bullying.
Veach will be the first driver, who has competed at every level of the Mazda Road to Indy, to step up to the Firestone Indy Lights series for a test. The Mazda Road to Indy is the official developmental system of INDYCAR and is designed to advance drivers from grassroots to the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. The initiative was launched in 2010.
"Watching Zach take another step towards continuing his movement up the Mazda Road to Indy is special, because it's exactly what the ladder system is all about," said Tony George Jr., Director, Firestone Indy Lights. "He's seen success in USF2000 and Star Mazda, and we've watched him develop both on and off the track. Not only is he talented in a race car, he's also built a recognizable brand for himself, which is very important in motorsports. It's very apparent that we have some huge talent in Star Mazda this year, and we're looking forward to having many such drivers join Firestone Indy Lights in the near future."
Andretti Autosport is the only team in INDYCAR to enter cars at every level of the Mazda Road to Indy with two entries in each series: USF2000 National Championship, Star Mazda Championship, and the Firestone Indy Lights. The team is also campaigning three entries in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012.
Veach's racing efforts are primarily supported by K12 with additional backing provided by: the Young Marines youth organization, Zakosi Data Backup, ADS IT Solutions, Replay XD, OMP, Oakley, and Arai Helmets.08/09/12 17-year-old Star Mazda driver Zach Veach will test an Firestone Indy Lights car for the first time at the Putnam Park circuit in Indiana.
"The last couple of Star Mazda weekends we've been running up front, but a few driver mistakes have kept me from getting the results the team deserves, but Michael Andretti saw that we'd have some budget leftover from our 2012 season and asked if we'd like to test one of Andretti Autosport's Firestone Indy Lights cars," he said. "We want to see where I am, how I adapt to the car, and see where it might lead for next year."
"It's a trade off, said Veach, who has a pair of Star Mazda podiums to his credit this season. "You definitely want to be successful at each level and in a timely manner; I want to move up in the process, but this test is to see how this car fits with me.
"My driving style seems to be more of an Indy Lights driving style than a Star Mazda driving style, because I'm over-using the brakes and driving the little Star Mazda car past its limits because it doesn't have the brakes or downforce of the Indy Lights car."
"The ultimate goal is to be a winner in the IZOD IndyCar Series one day," he said. "Right now, we're battling for the pole every weekend doing well, but I want to get my first pole out of the way before the season's over. We want to be consistent, and the next three races we're at we've had a lot of success at, so I want to close out the year strong for my sponsors and my team."