Pit stops prove time consuming at VeeKays Achilles heel Long Beach

Pit stops prove time consuming at VeeKays Achilles heel Long Beach



Rinus 'VeeKay' van Kalmthout has finished the second race of the 2024 NTT IndyCar Series in 14th place. Even though the 23-year-old driver failed to put a wheel wrong at Long Beach, he saw his overtaking moves go unrewarded due to an unfortunate strategy that cost him time in the pits.



Following the St Petersburg overture, VeeKay and his 26 IndyCar rivals had to wait no less than six weeks for their next competitive event. They did compete in the million-dollar race at The Thermal Club in California, but this did not count towards the championship. This meant that the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was the second official showdown of the 2024 NTT IndyCar Series.


Dutchman Rinus van Kalmthout, known in the States by his pseudonym VeeKay, proved quick straight out of the blocks on the streets of St Petersburg, as the single IndyCar race winner tussled with the fastest drivers throughout the entire race to eventually finish the race in a decent enough 10th place. A third-place start at the non-championship race two weeks later provided yet more hope, as it seemed that after a challenging 2023, VeeKay and Ed Carpenter Racing had finally found a way forward.


However, racing on the Long Beach street circuit has so far proved a challenge for ECR, as in recent year it has had to concede a fair amount of time to the frontrunners. After qualifying for this year’s edition was done, the team found its drivers in 18th and 21st on the grid, VeeKay ahead of his rookie teammate Christian Rasmussen.


At the start of the Acura Grand Prix, VeeKay traditionally showed his muscle, as the Dutchman who has lived in Florida for years stormed up to 14th position in no time, passing several of his rivals in fine fashion. Teammate Rasmussen, however, was forced to find out that the narrow corners of the famous street circuit near Los Angeles offer no room for even the smallest mistake, as the unfortunate Dane was forced to retire after touching the wall.


Using an alternative strategy, VeeKay ran amongst the top ten for several laps to make his first pit stop at a third’s race distance. The talented 20-year-old expressed particular satisfaction with the car’s balance, but still lost a lot of time in the tyre change. His second stop later in the race once again failed to be smooth, and as a result, VeeKay was forced to watch his competition pull away from him twice.



After 85 very intense laps, VeeKay crossed the line on the lead lap, in 14th place, just a few seconds off the top ten. Towards the end of the race, the driver of the black-and-green car mainly had to take care of a set of tyres that failed to deliver the desired grip. As such, 14th proved to be the maximum. The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was won by six-time champion Scott Dixon.


“A tough race, even though it started very well”, said VeeKay, as he looked back on his race. “I was able to pull off some nice overtakes at the beginning of the race. That was our goal since we had started on the soft tyres. Both speed and balance were fine in that first stint but unfortunately, we lost track position at the first pit stop, meaning that I lost the places that I had previously gained.”


“Sadly, on the hard tyre my car failed to perform as well. This made it difficult for me to make up for the time lost in the pits, but I made the most of it and crossed the finish line in 14th. In all, I think it was a fine race, since we have known for years that Long Beach is our Achilles heel. We scored points for the championship and the car stayed in one piece, that’s all we could do.”



“Considering the difficulty of this weekend I'm quite satisfied. I'm just bummed about the time lost at the pit stops. Fortunately, we get a rematch next weekend. This circuit suits me very well – I’ve been on pole position there before and finished on the podium once – so I’m looking forward to that,” VeeKay concluded.


The 2024 NTT IndyCar Series continues with the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix held this Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, USA. The race gets underway around 19:30hrs Dutch time and can be followed live via Ziggo Sport Racing.