18-Year-Old Zach Veach Backs Up Quick Time At IMS; Only Driver over 190MPH
Andretti Autosport's Zach Veach put his K12.com machine back at the top of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway time charts with the quickest trip around the world's most famous oval Thursday during the first test in preparation for the Firestone Freedom 100 race to be contested later this month on Coors Light Carb Day. His blistering speeds trumped all other drivers leaving the 18-year-old as the only driver to hit a top speed of 190 mph. The teen even mirrored his topping of the IMS speed charts in late 2012 when he set an unofficial new track record while testing a Firestone Indy Lights car on the IMS road course.
"I guess for some reason we have some really good luck here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Veach. "Back in October we were P1 in the road course test while setting the track record. To come back here today and be P1 again in the K12 car is just incredible. So far Indy has been really good to us. Coming here has always been a dream of mine but we have to keep working hard. Also, I have to say I think I sounded like a little boy on the radio after my first lap because I was so excited to be here. This place has so much history and it's the one track you see growing up and where you dream of being as a professional race car driver one day. To be able to drive around this place at over 190 as an 18-year-old is something that's really special to me and I don't take that for granted. I want to especially thank my Andretti Autosport team for working so hard during this test and to K12 for making this all possible. I'm really looking forward to coming back here at the end of May, right after I finish up my Senior year of High School."
Veach, of Stockdale, Ohio, was grinning ear-to-ear after he took his first lap around the 2.5-mile legendary racecourse. While on a break between sessions, he told the media he was at a loss for words, reminiscing his dream to run at the famous course and comparing it to the day he got his first go-kart.
The open test at IMS was Veach's first outing on the oval despite a two-day test in October of 2012 where Andretti Autosport team owner Michael Andretti evaluated Veach, weighing the option to move the-then 17-year-old up to the Firestone Indy Lights for 2013.
The team announced they would indeed move Veach up to the final step of the "Mazda Road to Indy" developmental ladder system, becoming the first driver to advance through the entire system alongside former teammate Sage Karam. When Veach was a mere 15 years of age, Andretti signed him, mentored him through two seasons in USF2000, one season in Star Mazda and now Veach looks onto his fourth season with the legendary team.
On the 2013 Indy Lights season, rookie driver Veach's best start is third on the Streets of Long Beach and his best finish is fifth and came on the Streets of St. Petersburg. Before stepping foot at IMS Thursday, Veach learned Wednesday, May 1, that legendary television and radio host Larry King had come calling for an exclusive interview. King joins a long list as Veach's popularity has soared since assisting Oprah Winfrey with her "No Phone Zone" campaign in 2010.
K12.com, the nation's largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online education, backs the 18-year-old who plans to graduate this May 2013. While competing full time in the Firestone Indy Lights Series and finishing up his senior year of high school, Veach also makes time for his passion to help others through his national distracted driving and bullying campaigns.
CNN listed Veach as one of their most "Intriguing People" in 2010 while ESPN The Magazine named him NEXT in motorsports in 2011. Sports Illustrated followed in agreement in 2012, naming him a "Face in the Crowd." He released his first book on NBC's TODAY Show and is the youngest spokesperson for Got Chocolate Milk's? Team REFUEL nutritional health campaign.
If Thursday's open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is any indication of Veach's potential success later this month, we'll just have to wait and see. Practice for the Firestone Freedom 100 begins Thurs., May 23 at 9:00 a.m. EDT with qualifications set for 1:15 p.m. EDT later that day. The race will then be contested on Fri., May 24 at 12:30 p.m. EDT in advance of the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500.