By: Tanner Watkins
July 8, 2019 | 8:00 AM
Last year, rookie Andretti Autosport driver Zach Veach had one top-ten finish to his NTT IndyCar Series resume heading into the Toronto race weekend. His seventh-place finish in Canada kicked off a stretch of four consecutive top-ten results in 2018 – also moving Veach up two spots in the championship by years’ end.
Looking ahead to this year’s edition of the Honda Indy Toronto, Veach is counting on another strong weekend north of the border to make something out of this season’s second half.
“Toronto was a place that started a really strong second half of the season for us last year with a seventh-place finish followed by consecutive top 10s the next three races,” said Veach on Monday.
“We really need that same momentum again this year. We’ve spent a lot of time preparing for this race and I’m excited to get our one trip out of the United States started.”
Heading into this weekend’s event, Veach is sitting in a similar position to this time last year. Thus far, the No. 26 Honda driver is 18th in points compared to 17th heading into Toronto 2018, and Veach has two top-tens to date in 2019 compared to the one he had last year before the Canada race.
With that being said, 2019 has been more eventful for Veach in both good and bad ways. The first half of the year saw Veach pushing hard in practice and qualifications sessions in an attempt to build on a consistent and steady rookie season in 2018. The result of that added effort often produced mistakes and overall sloppy preparation.
Moving into the season’s second half, Veach has cleaned up the weekend execution a bit and was rewarded at the last IndyCar street course event where he picked up two eighth-place finishes at Detroit – his only top-tens of 2019.
And while Veach’s top-tens at Detroit both came via starting positions inside the first four rows, qualifying well isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for a strong finish: In his seven career top-ten results, Veach has qualified inside the top ten on just three of those occasions.
What is most important for the Ohio native is working through the No. 26 team’s checklist in practice and being fully prepared for all that Toronto can throw at them during the race. If Veach can execute during practice and run a clean race, look for the second-year driver to close the year strong once again.
Header image by Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR.