In 2018, this was the point of the season in which Zach Veach got hot. In Mid-Ohio, his homestate’s track, the Ohio native scored a 10th place result in his No. 26 Honda. Now, the Andretti Autosport driver returns looking for another top 10 effort.
Last weekend, no one was more happy to see weepers on the .894-mile Iowa Speedway than that of Veach. See, if not for those pesky weepers, then Veach likely would have never started Saturday’s rain delayed Iowa 300. See, Veach’s Andretti Autosport crew noticed a fuel cell leak on his No. 26 Honda before he even hopped in the car.
The NTT IndyCar Series officials had the teams grid their cars but while Veach’s car was on pit road, they noticed a problem. So, back to the garage they’d go. The command was supposed to happen any time around 10:10 local time. But, the weepers didn’t allow that. So, at 10:36 p.m. locally, Veach’s car would come out to pit road – exactly 10 minutes prior to the official command to fire the engines.
Crisis averted. Now, time to climb from his 20th starting position.
He’d do just that. As other dropped, Veach steadily improved. By the end of the race, Veach was in the top 10. When it was all said and done, he brought his No. 26 Honda home seventh for his third top 10 of the year but this being his best finish of the season.
Even more impressive, he was the second best Andretti driver all night.
“Tonight was relieving in a little way, but there’s still a lot more to be done,” said Veach after scoring his eighth career top 10 result. “I can’t thank my Gainbridge crew enough. We had a puddle of fuel in our pit box after we pushed out to the grid. They identified exactly what it was and worked extremely quick and got me back to the grid with the 10-minute call to get suited and strapped in. Really, this is for them. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have had tonight. It was one of those where you had to be the most aggressive person to get the spots.”
Graham Rahal at the INDYCAR Acura GP of Long Beach
For Rahal, it’s no secret, that if he can win anywhere other than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is the place he absolutely adores. Rightfully so too. Mid-Ohio, is Rahal’s home track. It’s the place where he has fond childhood memories and one that he admits is the site of his biggest Indy Car win in 2015.
Now, he returns again hoping for another memory – a two-time winner.
“Mid-Ohio has always been extremely special for me, it’s my hometown race,” said Rahal ahead of Sunday’s event. “There is great fan support which is probably the best part of it for me. I grew up going there and it is really one of the races that made me fall in love with Indy car racing. I have been very fortunate to win it in 2015, which is probably my best memory ever in racing. I hope this year with Fifth Third Bank on the car – another Ohio company – that we can get it done again.”
He’s got a great chance too with six consecutive top 10 finishes and eight in his last nine starts on the season in his No. 15 Honda. Also, he has five straight top 10 finishes at Mid-Ohio as well including four top five finishes among those five top 10’s. While road course racing hasn’t been a full strong suit for Rahal’s program in 2019, he has a lot of confidence heading to Mid-Ohio.
“Road course racing has been up and down for our team this year,” Rahal continued. “Barber and Road America were very good but there have been other tracks that we did struggle. I have a lot of confidence about Mid-Ohio. The home track always gives you that little bit extra that you don’t know you have. We’ve done well there before and I feel like we’re going to have a good weekend. I remember everything about going the Mid-Ohio as a kid. I started to go there when I was little. I caused a lot of trouble around that racetrack and I even had to miss the race one year because I got in trouble. It’s just a great place. Saying ‘Daddy and gentlemen start your engines’ with my siblings was a cool moment and he finished on the podium in his last home race which was cool (started 16th and finished 3rd ). I hope we can go back and have some more success of our own. We’ve had some great runs over the last handful of years and hopefully, we can this year as well.”
So, when the checkered flag falls on Sunday’s Honda Indy 200, Rahal’s name should be found at or near the top.