LEEDS, Ala. – Zach Veach doubled his Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship lead Friday at Barber Motorsports Park.
Veach won the Sunoco Pole Award for Saturday’s 40-minute sprint race, the first of two races which comprise this weekend’s Legacy Indy Lights 100.
Veach, 19, from Stockdale, Ohio, arrived at the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course with a one-point advantage over recent Long Beach (Calif.) winner Gabby Chaves. His lead moved o two points after he made the best of a slippery track, as temperatures reached toward the high 70s – and the track surface ran into the 115-degree range.
The pole was Veach’s second in a row aboard the Andretti Autosport #26 RePLAY XD/The Young Marines/Ads IT Solutions/Zakosi Data Back Up Dallara.
Chaves, 20, from Miami, Fla., had been fastest for much of the 45-minute session, and improved to 1:17.614 when he ventured out on fresh tires with just 10 minutes remaining, only for his lap to be eclipsed by Veach, who jumped to the top of the charts with a time of 1:17.3743. Chaves (Belardi Auto Racing) improved to 1:17.5905 on his very next lap, with around six minutes remaining in the session, but it wasn’t enough.
Chaves’ Belardi teammate Alex Baron jumped into second with a lap of 1:17.5252. It was enough to secure the first-ever front row start for Baron, from Narbonne, France, making his third Indy Lights start.
Colombian-American Chaves starts third Saturday ahead of Brazilian Luiz Razia, fastest of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian team at 1:17.6632.
Teammate Jack Harvey, from Bassingham, England, lines up on the inside of row three with a time of 1:17.8060, slightly faster than Matthew Brabham’s 1:17.8990 in the second Andretti Autosport entry.
The Schmidt Peterson pair of Juan Pablo Garcia and Juan Piedrahita, plus Zack Meyer (Team Moore Racing) also were within one second of Veach’s pole-winning effort.