Rinus VeeKay preparing for third Indianapolis 500 outing
He will be in an all-orange car for the first time, starting from the front row of the grid for the second time, and racing with #21 for the third year running – Rinus ‘VeeKay’ van Kalmthout is busy preparing for his third outing in the legendary Indianapolis 500 race.
In the run-up to the Indianapolis 500, the drivers of the NTT IndyCar Series are as busy as ever – especially the front row starters, as they are continuously requested to appear for media and public activities. For VeeKay, driving the #21 Bitcoin Racing Team With BitNile Chevrolet of Ed Carpenter Racing, it’s an extremely busy week, even though the young Dutchman is enjoying himself to the fullest.
“I feel good. Wednesday was a little quieter and I tried to enjoy that, because the rest of the week is jam-packed. We’ve organized some nice events with Dutch fans and I’m present at an elementary school visit, for example. I’m only noticing this year how the Indy 500 is alive in Indianapolis, since this is the first time I get to race in front of grandstands filled with fans. The Indianapolis 500 as well as everything around it is a fantastic experience.”
Qualifying weekend proved to be unforgettable for VeeKay, as on the first day the talented twentysomething recorded the fastest time of all 33 drivers. With an average of 233.655 miles per hour, the Dutchman at that time set the third fastest four-lap average ever. After smoothly making it through the Fast Twelve, the second qualifying segment held on Sunday, VeeKay took to a very respectable third place in the final run, in the process making him the top-ranked Chevrolet driver for the third consecutive year.
“In terms of power delivery, we're in a better position this year than before. Especially on the road and street courses, because obviously there a lot is dependent on traction and acceleration. Chevrolet has taken a step forward in the past winter. In qualifying last Sunday, we fell a little short of the Ganassi Hondas, but even if we had driven without wings, Dixon and Palou would still have been faster. In race trim, though, we’re not inferior to the Hondas.”
For his first-ever Indianapolis 500, VeeKay qualified a phenomenal fourth while last year he took third on the grid. For the 106th edition of the famous race, which for sponsorship reasons goes through life as the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, VeeKay will once again start from third. So the qualifying result is exactly the same as it was twelve months ago, but a lot has changed in the meantime.
“I go into this year’s race with a lot more experience than I had twelve months ago. Of course it was wonderful to lead the Indianapolis 500 last year, but I learned my lesson from it. Up front you can’t save as much fuel as you can in the pack, for example. I also now know that it pays quite well to think ahead. The experience I lacked last year is going to come in handy this year.”
A clever strategy can become irrelevant in no time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race lasts no less than 200 laps or 500 miles, as the track measures 2.5 miles. If the race has a bit of momentum, it will last a little less than three hours.
“The Indianapolis 500, as I have experienced it twice now and finished it twice, is a race where the go-with-the-flow principle applies. Initially, of course, you have a plan worked out, but with neutralizations and other unexpected things, your tactical plan can change in an instant. The Indianapolis 500 has to come your way. Pit stops are important and in that area Ed Carpenter Racing has made giant steps. On Monday, during pit stop practice, we were able to compete with the very best.”
Traditionally, the winner of the Indianapolis 500 is presented with a bottle of milk. After three-time Indy 500 winner Louis Meyer scored his second 500 victory in 1933, the American racing legend drank a glass of buttermilk. Three years later, when celebrating his third victory at the Brickyard, the glass became a bottle. Since then, it has been customary to drink milk after an Indy 500 victory.
“We can't get that particular buttermilk these days, so that’s why I opted for the whole milk. That one seems to taste extra good after a 500-mile race, so I’m going to do my best to take a few big sips of that on Sunday!”
The 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge gets underway Sunday night around 6:30 pm Dutch time. The race can be followed live via Ziggo Sport.