Veach Tops Testing Times at Sebring for Andretti Autosport
 January 8, 2014| 
  • Series News

SEBRING, Fla. – Series veterans Zach Veach (Andretti Autosport) and Gabby Chaves (Belardi Auto Racing) used their experience to good effect the past two days at Sebring International Raceway, topping the timing charts during the first open test of the New Year for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.

Weather was a factor throughout the test. Several drivers and crew members were caught out by the wintry conditions that have blanketed much of the nation, leaving the majority of teams short-handed. Unusually cool conditions in central Florida forced officials to modify the schedule, leading to a late start and a solitary session on Monday afternoon, but Veach, 19, from Stockdale, Ohio, didn’t allow that to influence his concentration as he posted the fastest overall time, 57.832 seconds, on the 1.68-mile Sebring Short Course.

Veach also topped the charts in each of today’s sessions which were held in warmer conditions, with temperatures reaching almost 70 degrees during the final afternoon.

“It was great to get back in the car for the first time of 2014, and I’m glad to say we were able to start it off on the right foot by ending P1 in every session here at Sebring,” said Veach. “We made a lot of progress and I’m extremely happy with the effort of the Andretti Autosport Replay XD crew.

“We have a lot more work ahead of us before we roll on to the grid [for the first race of the season March 29] at St. Pete but we’re ready for the task! I’m excited to see what’s to come.”

Colombian Chaves, 20, was a scant 0.064 seconds adrift of Veach’s best time this afternoon for the Belardi Auto Racing team, his quickest lap of 58.074 good enough for second fastest overall.

Reigning Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires champion and MAZDASPEED driver Matthew Brabham edged out Andretti Autosport teammate Vittorio Ghirelli for the third fastest time. Ghirelli, from Fasano, Italy, won last year’s Auto GP World Series title in Europe and set the second fastest time this morning. Ghirelli also was fourth quickest in the afternoon session despite an off-course excursion.

Former GP2 veteran and sometime F1 test driver Luiz Razia, from Barreiras, Brazil, was fastest of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports contingent, fifth quickest overall as the top five drivers were all within a half-second of Veach.

Colombian Juan Piedrahita, stepping up from Pro Mazda, showed good speed in a second Schmidt Peterson car, narrowly besting teammate and former GP3 Series contender Jack Harvey. Mazda Road to Indy graduates Alex Baron (Belardi Auto Racing), Scott Anderson – making his debut with Fan Force United – and Lloyd Read (Bryan Herta Autosport/Jeffrey Mark Motorsport) rounded out the 10-car field.

The next official Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires test outing will take place as part of the Cooper Tires Winterfest at New Orleans Motorsports Park on February 21/22.

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