INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Engine trouble ended Zach Veach’s rookie appearance in the Indianapolis 500 Sunday. An alternator went out in the Stockdale, Ohio native’s No. 40 Chevy, ending his day on lap 155 at the Brickyard.
Veach, who now lives in Indianapolis, started the race in the 32nd positon and finished 26th overall. Takuma Sato claimed the checkered flag while former Indy champion Helio Castroneves was second, and Ed Jones was third.
“We didn’t make any mistakes on the track,” Veach said in his garage after his day was over. “It was just frustrating because a part on the car — that you have no way of knowing if it’s good or bad — just went out.”
Veach’s car had power issues throughout the race. Two batteries went out and had to be replaced. Plans were in the works to replace a third one, but he was never able to make it to the pit before the car died.
“Basically, we started three laps down after all the mechanical problems,” Veach said. “But we were able to get into a good groove and make our way up the ladder.”
The only “rookie mistake” Veach said he made was on his first pit stop, when the car was experiencing the first battery failure. “I locked up a right front tire and missed the pit box,” he said. “That cost us some time.”
Veach knew there was something wrong with his car because he had to pit for a second time on lap 37. By lap 64, Veach had moved up two spots in the field, but another pit stop was needed to change the power source.
After the battery was replaced a second time, Veach was able to make up time. At the half-way point in the race, he had moved to 27th. He weaved and passed his way up to 26th in the field of 33. That’s when the alternator went out and ended his day with only 45 laps to go.
“We were planning a third change, but we ran out of juice before I could get to the pit,” Veach added.
Although Veach was disappointed he was not able to complete all 200 laps, he was grateful for the experience of driving in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
“It was an incredible feeling, seeing all the people here,” Veach said. “I have to admit I got emotional when I heard the song ‘Back Home in Indiana’ sitting there in my car.”
Veach got his big break a few weeks ago when four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt gave him the opportunity to run on his team in the 500.
Foyt’s son Larry said the team closely watched Veach from the moment they met him. “It was a good fit, we liked him, his work ethic and his reputation,” Foyt said. “Zach was able to get a sponsor, and it all worked out.”
Foyt added Veach has a lot of talent and ability, and he said the experience at Indy is valuable. “He has a bright future,” Foyt said. “He’s doing all the right things.”