Faultless VeeKay fights his way to the front at Indianapolis
Starting 17th and crossing the finish line 13th, Rinus ‘VeeKay’ van Kalmthout has maximised at the GMR Grand Prix, the fifth round of the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series.
It should be obvious by now that one season is not like the other. At the moment, the 22-year-old Dutchman simply doesn’t have a competitive package, as his Ed Carpenter Racing team is struggling in several areas. And so, VeeKay has to make the most of what he gets to be in the in the middle of the pack, an 11th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway proving to be his best result so far.
A repeat of 2021 when VeeKay won the GMR Grand Prix on the Road Course of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from seventh on the grid seemed impossible. A finishing place higher than their starting position was now considered a win by the Ed Carpenter Racing team. During qualifying on Friday afternoon (local time) VeeKay had guided his #21 BitNile Chevrolet to 17th whereas teammate Conor Daly had to make do with 21st. From there, it was going to be a tough job for VeeKay to cross the finish line in the same position at all.
For VeeKay, the task was crystal clear. With the car not doing what the team requires of it for now, its driver must remain faultless. Only in this way is it possible to nibble a few points here and there and, above all, collect data to take that much desired step forward. The young Dutchman remembered this well to show his very best side, not for the first time in 2023.
Throughout the 85-lap race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, VeeKay failed to put a wheel wrong, allowing him to battle with faster competitors. Due to his short first stint, the three-stop strategy led him to save a lot of fuel in the closing stages, but nevertheless, VeeKay – who casually ran the fifth-fastest race lap of the entire IndyCar field – was able to cross the line in 13th place. Amongst others, the talented 20-year-old kept recent race winners Scott McLaughlin and Kyle Kirkwood behind. The race in Indianapolis was won by Ganassi driver Alex Palou, the driver who faced VeeKay three years ago in the battle for the Rookie of The Year title.
“A tough race,” VeeKay informed us from the United States. “Unlike two years ago, we were unable to fight for victory on this track today, but we knew that beforehand. What matters now is completing as many laps as possible to finish as high as possible and we managed to do that today. I may have had to work harder for 13th today than for the win two years ago.”
“At the start I managed to overtake a couple of cars on the outside right away and from there I took on the fight. The team got me in early for the first stop, which gave me a chance in free air to make up time. The second stint was very good, but after the second pit stop we lost ground again. The car is currently no match for IndyCar’s extremely competitive front-runners and all I can do is squeeze the maximum out of it.”
“In the final stint I had to save fuel, which meant I couldn’t use my push-to-pass seconds. As such, 13th was the maximum. I’m satisfied with my own race and I’m looking forward to the most important race to come. The Month of May is always special, hopefully we can pull off a stunt on the oval,” VeeKay concluded in fighting spirits.
The Month of May is in full swing, continuing at the renowned Indianapolis oval. From next Tuesday, 17 May, practice will start for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. The sixth race of the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series will be run on Sunday, May 28, with qualifying taking place the weekend before.