8.10.2012 (Via Marshall Pruett, SPEED) - Thanks to his team owner, 17-year-old Ohioan Zach Veach will continue his rapid ascent up the Mazda Road To Indy ladder next Monday when he tests a Firestone Indy Lights car for the first time at the Putnam Park circuit in Indiana.
Now in his third season with the Andretti Autosport team, Veach sits 10th in the Star Mazda series during his rookie campaign and told SPEED.com he's looking forward to sampling the bigger, more powerful Lights car while still learning in his current series.
"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."
The Andretti team fields full-time efforts in all four of North America's premier open-wheel categories, including the USF2000 Championship and IZOD IndyCar Series, and with his test on Monday, Veach will earn the distinction of having driven for Andretti on three rungs of the ladder.
The main question now facing Veach is whether he's looking too far ahead–before he's won a Star Mazda race or mastered the series–or progressing at a natural rate.
"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."
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