Notes: Young guns shine in Sonoma test spotlight


SONOMA, Calif. - Zach Veach said he had an ear-to-ear grin for the last few weeks thinking about his first test in a Verizon IndyCar Series car.

After finishing his stint driving the Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka/ECR Chevrolet usually occupied by Josef Newgarden at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday, the grin was still ever-present on the 21-year-old from Stockdale, Ohio.

“Getting out here today was the completion of a nine-year dream for me,” said Veach, who was one of three Indy Lights drivers to sample cars during the test, part of a program that allows Verizon IndyCar Series teams an extra test day by sharing the car with a current Indy Lights competitor.

Santiago Urrutia“I think we had a pretty good day even though getting up to speed is completely different than in a Lights car. I’m pretty happy with where we ended up, and it gave me a good idea of what to expect when I get to move up to (the Verizon IndyCar Series). I think I showed I have the pace.

“Coming up the ladder in USF2000 and Pro Mazda and even in Indy Lights, I’ve been told to pull back on the aggression and the car will go faster. Getting into the Indy car they told me, ‘You can’t be aggressive enough. Go out there and push as hard as you can.’ That suits me. I just need to get in the car more and get more laps and bulk up some this winter.”

Joining Veach on track during the test was Indy Lights point leader Santiago Urrutia and his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate Andre Negrao. Urrutia drove Mikhail Aleshin’s No. 7 SMP Schmidt Peterson Honda while Negrao worked with James Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.

“There’s a big change in terms of brakes and downforce from an Indy Lights car to an Indy car,” said Urrutia, who holds the series’ point lead heading into the “Soul Red Finale” doubleheader at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “I’m really happy. I enjoyed my time in the car. I’ve been waiting for this chance for years. It’s awesome to drive an Indy car. I’m very thankful that Schmidt Peterson Motorsports gave me the opportunity.”

Rossi stays busy in California homecoming

Alexander Rossi’s described his return to Northern California in a single word – “Busy”

Rossi, whose hometown of Nevada City, Calif., is about three hours from Sonoma Raceway, is being honored for his thrilling win in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 around Northern California in the next few days following the test at Sonoma Raceway.

Rossi was recognized on the floor of the California State Senate at the California State Capitol by Sen. Ted Gaines, whose district includes Nevada City and he’ll follow it up with a number of events over the weekend.

“Saturday and Sunday there’s a number of hometown festivities,” he said. “Sunday there’s a parade and I’m speaking at my church. There’s just a lot of cool things with the people who have supported me throughout this whole process (of becoming a race car driver).

Curry to serve at grand marshal

Celebrity chef and popular Bay Area personality Ayesha Curry has been named Grand Marshal of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway, Sept. 16-18.

Curry, wife of Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, began her career as the creator of the popular food and lifestyle blog Little Lights of Mine and is now moving on to become one of the rising stars in the culinary world. Curry has guest judged on popular Food Network shows such as Guy’s Grocery Games and Chopped Junior, and recently authored her first cookbook, The Seasoned Life, which will be published on September 20 from Little, Brown and Company. She is also slated to host her own TV show on Food Network, Ayesha’s Homemade. 

In her role as Grand Marshal of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, Curry will take part in pre-race activities on Sunday, Sept. 18, and give the official command of, "Drivers, Start Your Engines." This will mark her first visit to a motorsports event.

“This will be my first time going to Sonoma Raceway and a Verizon Indycar Series event, so I’m very excited,” said Curry. “You can’t beat seeing a sporting event like this in person, and I’m sure it will be an incredible experience. It’s an honor to be named Grand Marshal; I can’t wait to say “Drivers, start your engines!”

The Curry family quickly grabbed local and international attention during the Golden State Warriors’ record-setting run to the 2015 NBA Championship. In addition to daughter Riley, a popular addition to Steph’s post-game press conferences, the Currys welcomed a second daughter, Ryan, in 2015.

“We are very excited to have Ayesha join us for the GoPro Grand Prix weekend,” said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager. “She has emerged over the last two years as one of the Bay Area’s most dynamic personalities and culinary stars, and she’ll be a perfect fit for such a high-energy event in the Sonoma Wine Country.”

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