ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Zach Veach took advantage of his outside pole starting position in the St. Petersburg 100 and scored his first Indy Lights Series win Sunday.
Veach took the lead from polesitter Gabby Chaves at the start and was never seriously challenged in the opening round of the new Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires tour.
Veach, 19, from Stockdale, Ohio, began his second season in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport precisely as he would have wished. He took advantage of a slight mistake by fellow series sophomore Chaves (Belardi Auto Racing) in turn one and slipped into the lead. The yellow lights flashed on moments later after rookie Scott Anderson, who started fifth, endured a heavy impact with the wall in turn three.
After six laps behind the pace car, Veach took off into the lead with the No. 26 Dallara and soon began to edge clear of Chaves. The Colombian-American maintained the deficit at a little less than two seconds until Lap 16 when Veach’s admirable consistency began to pay dividends and he stretched his lead. Veach took the checkered flag with a 5.461-second advantage over second place Chaves.
“I’m so happy. This winter I spent a lot of time trying to get more physically strong because I felt that was my weakness, and spent a lot of time doing mental things and came into the season with a whole new attitude,” said Veach. “My engineer Doug Zister definitely was on me a lot about saving tires. In my mind I was thinking, ‘just don’t mess up, just hit my marks, have clean laps’ – and we were able to do that. I took the lead early and were able to keep it from there. This is an amazing start to 2014.”
Chaves came home second followed by Jack Harvey, Vittorio Ghirelli and Luis Razia rounding out the top five.