07.12.2016 – I’m a huge fan of Iowa Speedway and the action that it fuels in both the IndyCar and Indy Lights races. The track rolls out the red carpet for the IndyCar and Mazda Road to Indy communities and I think the 7/8-mile track length is perfect for both programs. I may be a ‘bull ring’ for the IndyCars, but it’s a ‘superspeedway’ for the developing Indy Lights pilots. The competitors on the top rung of the MRTI put on a great show on Sunday afternoon, taking to a track that had been washed off rubber thanks to the storm that hit Newton in the morning.
The Indy Lights Iowa Challenge was a thrilling 100-lap race that featured battles for position throughout the field. Yes, there was a bit of a lull in excitement mid-race, as was to be expected, but the final 25 laps were ridiculously fun to watch. From the very green flag, I had my eye on my eventual Insider ‘Star of the Race’ when he took the middle line heading into turn one, making it three-wide to begin the fight. Zach Veach was a man on a mission as we went on the immediate attack, splitting Shelby Blackstock and Kyle Kaiser to jump from sixth to fifth. He would then power past Santiago Urrutia before setting his sights on Andretti Autosport’s Dean Stoneman.
Veach earned my Star pick for his combination of patience and precision, as he needed to remain poised during his attack on Stoneman, which held him up mid-race. The Brit did not want to be overtaken and defended aggressively to keep Zach at bay. Veach eventually needed to roll the high groove through 3-4, nearly clipping the wall on the exit of 4 to get past the Freedom 100 winner, and once clear, he took off after Carlin’s Jones and Serralles and powered to the lead. The run through the field was staggeringly impressive. After turning the race’s fastest lap early in the run, he got past Jones first, and then used lapped traffic to pounce on Serralles to assume the lead.
Although the end result was not the win that Veach expected was in the cards, having been passed by Serralles on the penultimate lap when a lapped car held him up, Zach turned in the performance of the weekend. He’s also fought his way back into title contention, now sitting fifth in points.