Star Mazda Championship driver Zach Veach will be blogging for RACER.com throughout the 2012 season.
May is by far one of my favorite months of the year and I'm sure any open-wheel race fan will agree! If you remember my blogs around this time last year, you'll know that I'm more of an oval guy than a road course racer. When it comes to an oval, it's all about being the smartest driver with the best feedback and feel for the car.
It never fails that someone asks me, “Why do you like the ovals?” I could say what I just did but my answer is always the same: “The most important race to win is on an oval.”
Like all of the drivers that strive toward competing in the Indianapolis 500 one day, ever since an early age, it has been my dream to cross the yard of bricks on the 200th lap in first place and with the Mazda Road to Indy, I feel every time I get in the car, I'm one step closer to that goal of competing in the Indy 500.
This Saturday night, USF2000 and Star Mazda will take the track under the lights at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis for our own version of the Indy 500, the “Night Before The 500.” It's always one of the events I look forward to the most each year as it, was the very first oval I ever drove in an open-wheel car. We have had some pretty good luck on this track in the past, fourth in 2010, second in 2011, and hopefully we can get the win this year!
This weekend is particularly special for my team and I because we had the great honor to announce on Monday that K12, the largest online education provider in the United States, will be on the car for the rest of the season as my primary sponsor. Before the partnership even came together, I was and still am a proud K12 student. If it wasn't for all of the great people and teachers at K12, I wouldn't be able to chase my dream of being a racecar driver, and I feel I'm even getting a better education online than I ever could in a public school.
At the beginning of May, we had a test at Lucas Oil Raceway to help drivers get a grasp with the cars on the oval, and I have to say compared to the USF2000 car, the Star Mazda is night and day different.
With my last two years of racing on this track in a USF2000 car, I started getting use to the lightness of the car throughout the corner, allowing the car to skate from entry to exit because of the lack of down force it had. As soon as I took the Star Mazda car out, I learned it wasn't the same. Instead of the car being barley stuck to the ground, the Star Mazda car sucks to the ground from entry to the middle of the corner and you feel the car just take a hard set, and reach G-forces higher than I have ever felt before. With this set and massive amount of grip the car has, it does come with one weakness, though: If the rear of the car snaps out, it's usually a big moment and makes you thankful you were able to keep it under you.
Looking toward the weekend, I'm just really excited to see what the Andretti cars can accomplish! At the test, my teammate Sage Karam and I finished up P3, P5, respectively, and I think that's really going to carry into this weekend. We all are going to be working extremely hard towards a 1-2 finish, and give K12 a great opening race!
Hope to see you there!
• Star Mazda Championship driver Zach Veach drives the Andretti Autosport No. 77 Zakosi Data Backup/Mazda. For more on Zach, go to www.zachveach.com.