Gritty VeeKay starts IndyCar Season with top ten result

Gritty VeeKay starts IndyCar Season with top ten result


Last year, he had to wait for it for six races but Rinus ‘VeeKay’ van Kalmthout achieved the feat straight away in the 2024 NTT IndyCar Series season opener – the 23-year-old Dutchman completed the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with a top-ten finish.



After a challenging 2023, it was time for the entire Ed Carpenter Racing team to turn the corner. While leading driver VeeKay continued to deliver one flawless performance after another, the team was struggling with car set-up and tactical execution. However, a long winter break of over six months gave the ECR team time to analyse their shortcomings and build on their strengths.


The hard work of both VeeKay and his team paid immediate dividends on the streets of St Petersburg, as the driver from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was able to keep pace with his fastest rivals from the very first practice laps. This is significant for 2024, since the IndyCar Series is more competitive than ever with up to 27 competitors all but matching each other in terms of raw pace. With a seventh time in qualifying, VeeKay made his mark while his rookie team-mate Christian Rasmussen, the reigning Indy NXT champion, finished 21st, right in the crowded midfield pack.



In hot conditions of 26 degrees Celsius with fairly high humidity, VeeKay and his 26 fellow IndyCar drivers prepared for a tough race that as in previous years would take the drivers around the streets of St Petersburg for one hundred laps. Right from the start in his green and black #21 Chevrolet, VeeKay was forced to watch his mirrors while charging past rivals.


VeeKay’s first stint was excellent, as the Dutchman delivered consistent lap times and stayed in touch with the leading group to pit for new tyres and fuel from seventh position. ECR and VeeKay opted to start on hard tyres before going to a second stint on soft rubber and a final stint back on the hard compound.


After a somewhat slow first pit stop, VeeKay returned in tenth place, only to pass multiple IndyCar champions Scott Dixon and Will Power in stunning fashion. After dropping two more rivals, VeeKay found his green and black car in a fantastic sixth place. However, this was not to last, as tyre wear forced VeeKay to drop the pace at the end of his second stint, allowing a number of rivals to storm past.



In the closing stages of the race, tenth proved to be the best that VeeKay could do as he completed the hundred tough laps with obvious physical ease. It was the ECR driver’s first top-ten finish of the season, giving him personal satisfaction and a pat on the back from his team-mates. Team-mate Rasmussen finished 21st, with the race won by Josef Newgarden.


“A good race”, said VeeKay from sunny Florida, “although I would be lying if I said I was completely satisfied. When you start seventh, you want to finish at least seventh. However, we were a few laps behind our competition in terms of pit sequence, so I lost a few places.”


“We struggled to keep the soft tyre alive for a full stint”, VeeKaye explained. “We almost made it, but in the last three laps the rubber went off the cliff. We know what we need to work on as an ECR team. Anyway, it’s hopeful to have started the new season with a top-ten finish. Last year we had to wait six races for our first top-ten result.”


“All in all, a good start to the year. We still have some work to do to finish in the top five or even on the podium, but compared to last year we have made a good step forward. Last but not least, I would like to thank our engine supplier Chevrolet. The Chevys ran like a charm today. The season has started well and I can’t wait for the next race”, VeeKay concluded.



The 2024 NTT IndyCar Series continues on the streets of Long Beach but not before one more non-championship event, since on Sunday March 24, VeeKay and his rivals will compete in the $1 Million Challenge at The Thermal Club in California, with the winner taking home a cool $1 million.