Archive for the ‘Indy Lights’ Category
6.17.14 – The current Indy Lights championship points leader, Zach Veach, made a special visit to Austin, TX Tuesday in support of Texas Department of Transportation’s (TXDOT) Distracted Driving Summit. The 19-year-old started the day before the sunrise in pit lane of the gorgeous Circuit of the Americas (COTA) facility with local media and families of those affected by distracted driving accidents to share their personal stories. Following the early morning hits, Veach was given the opportunity to tour the 3.4-mile permanent road course, even getting the chance to view the track from its iconic observation deck.
Leading off the summit was TXDOT Operations Director Carol Rawson who introduced the “rising IndyCar star” to the crowd settled into the COTA media center. The Ohio native spoke to the summit attendees about his personal story of losing a community member and schoolmate to a distracted driving accident. Veach also expressed that while driving at 180 mph as a race car driver, it’s imperative to be 100% focused, and should also be the same for drivers on the freeway even if they’re driving at just 60 mph.
In Texas alone in 2013, of the 94,943 traffic accidents that were caused by distracted driving, 459 of those were fatal, according to TXDOT. One in five accidents in Texas is caused by distracted driving – not limited to texting while driving or even talking on the phone albeit on a hands-free device. Changing the radio station, turning around in your seat to speak to passengers, cognitive distractions, in addition to phone usage are all means of distracted driving. Did you know that employers nationwide are liable for distracted driving accidents caused by their employees if the employees are operating a company vehicle, are using a cellular device provided by the company or are doing company business on their phone while operating a vehicle?
Although the driver of the No. 26 RePLAY XD Indy Lights machine may drive at speeds that are uncommon for everyday motorists, his 100% focus at the task at hand is what keeps him safe and helps him beat the competition. All operators of motor vehicles should be just as focused so they can keep themselves and those around them safe.
For more information on Zach’s advocacy efforts, please visit www.ZachVeach.com. To hear more about TXDOT’s efforts in reducing distracted driving, please visit http://www.txdot.gov/driver/share-road/distracted.html.
5.31.2014 (via RACER.com) – The Indy Grand Prix and the Indy 500 have come and gone, and the month of May is almost over; it has certainly gone by in a flash. I have been absorbed solely into racing and nothing else during this time and it feels nice to finally have a little bit of a break before the next race at Pocono in July.
There have been some highs and lows, but it has been an amazing experience. It was very gut wrenching and saddening for my whole family to lose my grandfather, Poppy. I know he would have been very upset with me if I had let his passing interrupt my focus for the Freedom 100, as racing was everything to him. So, I tried to look on the positive side and stay clear-minded.
Poppy's life was absolutely amazing; he lived in a great era and what he achieved during his time on this earth was incredible. I'm completely blown away from all of the support and condolences from everyone. It has made me incredibly proud, especially when I went to Lucas Oil Raceway and saw that all the USF2000 and Pro Mazda competitors had the same tribute sticker that I ran at the Freedom 100 on their cars. It was hard to keep my emotions in check. I had a strong month racing-wise and I felt Poppy was with me all the way.
There was a great deal of expectation leading into the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race. The hype of the Indy 500 and everything else going on around us was hard to totally absorb. We also only had two days on track; I wish we had more time on The Speedway as it was such a blast to drive on. It went by so quickly and it was all over before I knew it.
Practice didn't start out so well for us. We all did qualifying simulations in the only morning practice session on Thursday, and straight away it became apparent that the Sam Schmidt cars were very quick. The team and I were still confident we could go out and be in contention for pole, but it was a little disheartening when that didn't happen. Zach Veach and I spent the rest of the session working together on our race setups. My racecar felt very good in practice, and Zach and I worked really well together, but it was hard to tell how we both compared to the rest of the field.
Qualifying went as we thought with Zach and I lining up in the second row behind Luis Razia and Jack Harvey. Everyone was very close except for Luis, who absolutely smoked us, which was a worry. I figured it would be really hard to break the draft in the race, and I felt as though my race setup was really good so I remained confident.
Carb Day was amazing! I was surprised at how many people were at IMS. I almost missed the drivers briefing because it was chock-a-block traffic getting into the track. It was a really cool experience to be competing in front of such a big crowd. They gave us all the pre-race lead in's and introductions, which was really special. It made it a little more nerve-wracking before the start of the race, but once we pulled out of pit lane, all my emotions and butterflies disappeared; I was only focused on the race.
5.9.14 (via RACER.com) – The Brabham family finally has a victory to its credit at the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway after third generation racer Matthew Brabham made light of treacherous conditions to lead throughout this evening's fifth round of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. Brabham, who had qualified Andretti Autosport's #83 United Fiber & Data/MAZDASPEED entry on the pole earlier in the day, held off a race-long challenge on a rapidly drying track from Brazilian GP2 graduate Luiz Razia (#7 Lucas Oil with Curb-Agajanian) to score his first Indy Lights race win.
Brabham, 20, who was born in Florida and raised in Australia, now has added a race win at the highest level of the Mazda Road to Indy after winning back-to-back titles in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
The track was thoroughly soaked after a heavy rain shower immediately following the preceding Pro Mazda race, so every competitor had no choice but to start on grooved Cooper tires. Brabham, whose grandfather Sir Jack Brabham pioneered the rear-engined revolution at the Indianapolis 500 in the early 1960s and whose father, Geoff Brabham, made 10 Indy 500 starts of his own (with a best finish of fourth in 1983), led away from the pole but came under pressure almost immediately from Colombian-American Gabby Chaves, who had already won two races this season for Belardi Auto Racing.
Chaves slipped through into the lead at Turn One on the second lap only to later relinquish the lead once again to Brabham. Chaves' teammate, Alex Baron, moved up into second before quickly realizing his car's setup didn't work on a wet track as he fell immediately into the clutches of Zach Veach (Andretti Autosport) and Razia (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian).
The opening stages of the 40-minute race were thoroughly entertaining as positions swapped and changed with regularity – albeit not for the lead as Brabham put his head down and led by as much as three seconds by Lap 9. By then a dry line had begun to emerge and, despite lingering dark clouds, there was no further precipitation.
As the track began to dry quite quickly, drivers started to seek damp patches on the road surface to prevent their wet-weather tires from overheating. Razia gradually whittled the deficit to Brabham to less than a second, but he was able to get no closer. Brabham managed the margin – and his tires – to perfection to claim a finely judged victory.
5.5.14 (via RACER.com) – Out of all of the tracks we will compete on in the 2014 season, Barber is the one place that all of us in Indy Lights have the most testing time at. Throughout the winter, we spent a total of four days running together learning the track and preparing the cars. The only not-so-ideal thing was the Alabamian weather in December and February. At both tests, we all suffered through 45 and below temperatures… and a lot of rain, which wasn't exactly the case for us this past weekend, 75 and sunny… well, mostly sunny, but we'll get to that.
Coming off of our pole and second place at Long Beach just a couple weeks before, the team and I had a lot of momentum and confidence rolling into our two practice sessions on the promoter test day. Eager to get the weekend started, we were the first ones to roll onto the track as soon as it went green Thursday morning, but after the two test sessions that day, we knew we had some work to do as a team. We ended P3 in the first session and P4 in the second. With the dramatic change in the ambient and track temperature compared to the test, our cars needed a bit of a makeover to fit the new conditions.
On Friday, we had one early practice and then straight to qualifying. We knew we still had a chance to improve the car a bit, so we changed a good amount of things and were able to see what worked and what didn't, which led us to make a list of things to try in the 45-minute qualifying session and just keep working away hundredth by hundredth to get where we needed to be.
At the start we were P3, about 2.5 tenths off of pole position, but with 35 minutes to go, we didn't panic and just focused what we needed to do on the car. The next outing, we managed to get that gap down to just a tenth. We were finally dialing the car into where we needed to be, and at this point we had just about 10 minutes to go and one last change to try. My engineer told me to remember back to Long Beach and push the car as much as I could. On the out lap, I could tell we made the right change; I felt I had a car for pole – I just had to focus and make it happen. On my first timed lap, my projected was on a pole lap, but I just pushed too hard and made a mistake.
With the tires falling off so quickly at Barber, I knew I had only one or two more opportunities for a lap like that and I didn't want to throw that chance away. My second lap allowed me the pole by a tenth, but I knew I could get just a little more out of it. On my third, I pushed as hard as I could and snuck out five more hundredths. I couldn't believe it! We started off the weekend a step behind, and my engineer and I were able to rebound, stay positive and take our second consecutive pole of the season. It's just a starting position, but with it being so difficult to pass at Barber, it was definitely progress toward another win.
The way the past two Indy Lights races have gone, the race is ether won or lost in the first corner. We were 100% focused on how we could get a good start, because chances are, if you lead through Turn 1 at Barber, and have a consistent race, you can run your way to victory.
In the first race, I was lucky enough to be able to do just to that. Starting on the pole, I made sure I had a good run onto the front straight to give me what advantage I could take being the pole sitter into Turn 1, but it wasn't much. As we approached the brake zone, we were almost three wide again – Gabby (Chaves) looking to the inside and (Alex) Baron still hanging on the outside. After Gabby took the pole away from me at Long Beach, I wasn't going to let it happen again here. I broke later than I ever had into Turn 1 that just let me slip ahead. As I got to the exit, I looked in my mirrors and saw the two of them going off track. At first I had no idea what happened, but after review the two of them had made costly contact. From there on, I knew I just needed to build a gap up and save my tiresuntil the end. After 30 laps, I saw the checkered flags flying to drive to my second win in Indy Lights this season which ultimately helped extend our championship lead.
In the second race I didn't get the honor of starting on the pole. For the doubleheaders it goes off of your first and second fastest laps in qualifying; I missed pole for Race Two by just .02 hundredths of a second. Our race on Sunday was actually moved to 30 minutes earlier to try to escape the threat of strong rain, but it still looked as if, at some point in the race, we'd have to deal with it. My engineer and I decided to take a gamble and go toward a wet setup just in case, and looking back, we might have got caught out on it a bit. On the start Gabby and Baron worked really well together bump drafting into Turn 1 leaving me stuck on the outside falling back to third.
Right away, we just didn't have the speed with the wet setup on the car and I was left defending a lot of pressure from fourth place (Luiz) Razia, and he was making me work for it. As we got to halfway, it started to drizzle, and at first I thought our plan was going to work out, but after a few laps it stopped. With about 10 laps to go, I had to think about the championship – try not making any mistakes and just driving home our third place. Unfortunately, it was a little bittersweet. The rain came down very heavy at the end cutting the race three laps short. I could've used the rain a lot earlier, but all-in-all, I was very happy with the weekend. We have two wins, two poles and four podiums in four races, which is letting us leave Barber with a nine-point advantage over Gabby going into the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
I want to thank my engineer and the Andretti Autosport crew for doing such an amazing job for me so far this season, as well as RePLAY XD, Young Marines, ADS IT Solutions, Zakosi Data Back Up, Bell and OMP for all of their support. Last but definitely not least, thank you for reading, and I hope to see some of you in Indy!
5.5.15 (via RACER.com) – Barber, for me, was just one of those weekends. Obviously things did not go according to plan, and likewise, certain things didn't fall in our favor. The track conditions and weather were considerably different compared to the last time we tested there. The temperature was double than what it was at the test, and it was amazing how that affected our setup, so we seemed to be playing catch-up all weekend.
Challenging! Yes, I have to admit, but I came away from the weekend with even more determination. It has been a while since I have had to really dig deep and fight it out in the middle of the pack. Experiences like this certainly develop not only your skills, but are also character-building.
The qualifying session started OK as we were in and out of the top four, depending on who had new Cooper Tires on. But, we lost our way a little bit and did not have an extra set at the end, and as a result, I ended up a disappointing sixth.
My Andretti Autosport teammate Zach Veach was having simular problems to myself, but they made the right call on setup at the end of qualifying and captured the pole; unfortunately, we ran out of time and did not get a chance to do the same.
Barber is a notoriously difficult track for passing with really only one opportunity to pass at the start. Starting from the sixth position for both races was certainly not ideal… also survival through the first turn was crucial.
At the start of Race 1, the two Belardi Auto Racing cars hit each other in the first corner and I was able to slip through into fourth place. The changes to the setup made the car much better, and I was quicker than the car in front of me; passing was a whole other issue, and unfortunately, I spent the entire race following. I couldn't quite overcome the aero wash and the loss of down force. I could get close in certain corners but never close enough to make a clean pass for the podium position. This was rather frustrating, but it reminded me how important qualifying is in these cars.
The track conditions for Race Two on the following day were very different. Our race was scheduled immediately after the World Challenge cars, and along with the significant weather changes, it was going to be a guessing game for everyone. Unfortunately these factors changed the balance of the track and it seemed to affect both Zach and I negatively in the race. Although both of our setups seemed to be heading in the right direction, our balance still needed improvement.
Unlike the first race, the second race got off to a clean start. Although I managed to get a good jump, I had nowhere to go, and I maintained my position through the first corner. Just as in Race 1, I was having a hard time following the car in front, and I couldn't get close enough to make the lunge for the position. My only option was to continually attack and keep the pressure on… just maybe they would make that tiny error that would enable me to get by, however, I was never to get that opportunity. Earlier in the race I had the engine hesitate and I thought 'no that doesn't feel right'. But I thought luck was shining on me when the engine seemed to correct itself. With around 15 laps to go, my car completely died coming out of Turn 2 and I lost fuel pressure. The kind of luck I wasn't looking for paid me a visit, and I was forced to pull the car off to the side of the track and retire - that's my first DNF in a long time.
Barber is one of the prettiest circuits I have ever been to; however, when you pull off the track and have to jump the fence, the bushes on the other side are very difficult to clear. I ended up all tangled up in them, so hope nobody was filming me!
I know I am more motivated and determined than ever. All of us will be working even harder for that place on top of the podium. The month of May is almost here, and along with the excitement of the traditional Freedom 100 oval race for us, we also have the inaugural road course race to look forward to. What a blast! The new track looks brilliant and I can't wait to go racing again.
4.26.13 – Long Beach, for me, was a strong result but still not where I want to be. I felt quite confident leading into the event. I love racing on street tracks and Long Beach seems to be the king of street tracks. It was an awesome event, and the track was so cool! I was amazed at how pretty the fountain turn was, but at the same time, it's all very challenging; it was easy to absorb yourself in the atmosphere. It was for sure one of the most fun events I have been part of and cool to listen to my dad's stories about the place and the history that's behind it.
Practice started out quite well. It's a tough track to learn and I had never been there before so it was certainly demanding in getting up to speed. However, I felt like we were rather quick and definitely had the pace to run up front. During practice we were all incredibly close with the Belardi team looking the strongest, however, I did not foresee qualifying playing out the way it did.
Although I felt confident with our pace going into qualifying, I was also prepared for the fact that it was going to be a tough battle for pole position. I certainly would never have predicted just how tight it ended up being with the top four qualifying within 0.07 of a second. This was the tightest qualifying session I have been a part of. It was a mixed feeling for me; I was happy to be so close to getting the pole, but I was disappointed to be so close to the pole time and yet be in third place. I took the positives away from this looking forward to the race… since we were all so close, I figured any of us had the chance to win the race.
Our race started off reasonably well; however, it became apparent very quickly that it was going to be difficult to pass. I came out of the first corner in third place and stayed in that position for the rest of the race. I was pushing as hard as I could the whole time in the hope that maybe someone would make a big enough mistake and I could slip through. Unfortunately, I ended up brushing the wall quite a few times but I didn't think about any of it while I was racing. It was really interesting to see on TV when I watched it, and I think I need to reel myself in and stay off the walls in the future. I was happy to finish in third place and bank some good points. Although, I must admit I was a little frustrated to run in third place the whole race and not have the ability to move forward and fight for the win.
Long Beach was a great learning curve for me, and I have come away from there feeling more comfortable with the direction I want to go in with regards to the car and my driving.
My approach for Barber this weekend will be a little different… aggressive as ever but smooth, and I'm very confident it will work. Our pre-season testing ended strongly at Barber and we were the quickest here. I know our Andretti Autosport team will be quick, however, the key will be adjusting to the changing track conditions throughout the weekend. There are a lot of points on offer with the two-race format. I will be reeling myself back into the championship fight; the start to the championship for me didn't go according to plan. I feel that all of the rookies this year are having a difficult time adjusting to racing the Indy Lights car. Once we all figure it out, I think there will be more championship contender's popping up in the later part of the year – the same way it happened last year.
I'm really looking forward to this weekend. It will be a fun event at Barber Motorsports Park, and it will be our first proper road course race this year. I will be staying open minded and I'm looking forward to seeing how this weekend plays out.