They say everything is bigger in Texas, but that's not the case for the Houston Grand Prix around Reliant Park! With it being a 1.7-mile, 10-turn course, it'll be one of our shortest courses we've ran on this year in Firestone Indy Lights. This means it going to be very physical; the straightaways are pretty much corners as well so you wont have too much time to catch your breath. And with the Houston heat of 90+ degrees it's going to make a great proving ground to see how conditioned drivers are.
It's been over a month since our last race at Baltimore, since then I have had a lot of time to look ahead for the next race. Baltimore was a tough weekend for me as whole, when our race was decided for us just after the start when the electrical coils on the right side of the engine failed exiting Turn 1 on lap 1. After a quick pit stop, the problem was fixed and I was sent back out, but by that time our day was pretty much over. That's racing though, sometimes you're just going to have a bad weekend, and once you take away what you learned from it, there is no sense dwelling on it for too long.
Leaving Baltimore, I knew that the next race on the schedule was Houston, and the one thing I've heard over and over about this place is how tough it can be with the heat and humidity. So I made it my biggest goal to train as much as possible in the heat to prepare myself for that. This idea ranged from hot yoga, sauna weight training, and long distant running during the hottest parts of the day. But with having a month off, the worry of becoming “rusty” in the car grew ever bigger.
So, I was very excited to hear that we had a test planned at MSR Houston only a week before our race. This was going to give me the perfect combination to test seeing how I was conditioning wise, and knock the cobwebs off too to be in top shape for the race.
After a long day and over 200 miles on the 14 turn course at MSR with a little bit of rental car fun… The team, my teammate Carlos Munoz, and I managed to get through a very long test item list and improve the car in more ways than we expected. Some in which we believe will be a big help for us come race weekend.
After preparing physically and on the car side of things, the final step is just studying all of the rest of the little things that'll help me memorize the track the best I can before I get on it and actually get laps under my belt. The last time an open-wheel car raced through downtown was back in April 2007, in the Champ Car days (RIGHT) – ironically the same time that I had my first-ever karting race at 12 years old. None of the other Indy Lights drivers have raced here before, and none of the teams ether. It really sets a level playing field and whoever can adapt the quickest is going to be the threat this weekend.
To say the least, I'm very excited to be racing in Houston this weekend, and want to thank everyone who has worked to put it on, including the city! The Replay XD Andretti Autosport crew has been working extremely hard and we're ready to take on a new place, and see what we can accomplish as a team! I would also like to thank the Young Marines, ADS IT Solutions, Zakosi Data Back Up, Bell Helmets, OMP, and K12 for their never-ending support.
After this long break, I'm sure many will agree with me saying, lets get back to racing!
Firestone Indy Lights driver Zach Veach drives the Andretti Autosport No. 12 K12 machine. For more on Zach, go to www.zachveach.com.