Premature end to run VeeKay from the back at Long Beach
Rinus ‘VeeKay’ van Kalmthout and his employer Ed Carpenter Racing were well aware in advance that the third race weekend of the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series would be a tough one, but at Long Beach the young Dutchman was not even granted the pleasure of seeing the chequered flag.
After a tough opening race at St Petersburg and his insanely strong overtaking run at the Texas oval, VeeKay and his IndyCar rivals made the trek to the west of the United States for the third meeting on the 2023 IndyCar calendar, as they took to the street circuit of Long Beach, a track where Ed Carpenter Racing has traditionally struggled. It’s now five years ago that the team scored its most recent top-ten finish at the circuit.
And so, Ed Carpenter Racing knew it was set for a tough weekend and could do nothing but damage limitation. VeeKay’s 19th time in qualifying wasn’t even that bad, however, for a driver eager to fight for the top positions it was to swallow. The only thing that the talented 20-year-old Dutchman, who currently lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, could do was put his foot down in Sunday’s 85-lap race.
As usual, VeeKay started fast and hungry for success, soon trading his 19th spot for a better position. Shortly after the first series of pit stops, the Dutch driver found himself in 15th position, with potential for more. More progress beckoned until the fuel injection began to act up. After several slow laps, VeeKay was summoned by the team to come in and park his #21 BitNile Chevrolet. After VeeKay’s retirement, the race was won by fellow Road To Indy alumnus Kyle Kirkwood.
“Bummer,” was VeeKay's initial reaction from the United States. “It's been a tough weekend. We came up from the back and could have basically still given it a quite positive conclusion here at Long Beach. Fundamentally, the four fastest teams claimed the first ten places, but given my race pace, 11th or 12th would have been realistic. After all, I was competing with Santino Ferrucci who eventually crossed the line in 11th.”
“Until the problem with the fuel injection it was an excellent race. I ran well with the guys in the midfield and felt comfortable, so to be forced to retire is a disappointment, especially as this is a problem the team can do absolutely nothing about. Motorsport is a mechanical sport and sometimes you have those annoying moments when something breaks. Sometimes it happens during practice, we were unlucky that it happened during the race.”
“So, on to the next one. The race at Barber is coming up, a track where we flew last year – I grabbed pole position and drove to the podium. Hopefully, we can show our true pace again at the next race. We don’t have time to sit around anyway as we will be testing for the Indianapolis 500 this week. I am looking forward to it,” VeeKay concluded in combative spirits.
Action in the NTT IndyCar Series continues in two weeks the Children's of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. The fourth race of the season will take place on Sunday 30 April next and will start around 9.30pm Dutch time.