Zach Veach used his best oval racing approach when he encountered ice hockey Wednesday night in Indianapolis.
The 23-year-old Verizon IndyCar Series driver was invited by the Indy Fuel of the East Coast Hockey League to participate in its “Shoot the Puck” competition between periods of the game to raise money for the charity of his choice. Veach admitted to being a novice skater going into the appearance, but gave it his best shot to try and earn up to $50,000 by shooting the puck from center ice through slots in the net.
While unsuccessful, the newest full-time driver for Andretti Autosport in the Verizon IndyCar Series enjoyed the experience.
“Growing up in southern Ohio, I’ve only ever been a spectator of the sport,” said Veach, a native of Stockdale, Ohio. “I’ve never really skated or shot a puck more than once, which I think was pretty apparent when I took my shot. I hit it hard left.
“If we were set up on an oval, it would’ve been perfect. I was shooting for the Racing for Kids organization, which I’ve been a part of all of my career. I hope after some lessons, I can come back and put one in the goal for them!”
Had he put the puck through the center slot in the net, he would have earned $50,000 for Racing for Kids. A shot through the left-hand slot would have netted $1,000 and one through the right-hand slot a Fuel jersey.
Though he wasn’t successful, Veach enjoyed a well-contested game. The Fuel, a minor-league affiliate to the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, fell to Central Division rival Kalamazoo, 2-1.
Veach, a six-time race winner in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, the top development Mazda Road to Indy series sanctioned by INDYCAR, will drive the No. 26 Group One Thousand One Honda for Andretti Autosport in 2018, his first full season of Verizon IndyCar Series competition. He drew a comparison between auto racing and hockey following his appearance.
“Hockey has always been a sport I’ve loved to watch. Its fast-paced nature and heavy action makes it a very similar entertainment value as motorsports to me,” said Veach, who made two Verizon IndyCar Series starts this year, including the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. “I’ve been to a few Fuel games as a fan in the past, so getting to participate in a small way was a lot fun for me.”