Unfortunate coming together ends hopes of Portland top ten finish
It was looking good for Rinus ‘VeeKay’ van Kalmthout who in the 16th round of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series was set for his seventh top-ten finish of the season. Sadly, a late incident forced the 21-year-old Dutchman to settle for P20.
After an excellent month of July and the challenging races in August, VeeKay headed to Portland after two weeks of rest, with the aim of making his way into the top ten of the final standings. While the Portland International Raceway proved a headache for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2021, one year later VeeKay showed to feel comfortable on the tricky track in the United States’ northwest, the youngster demonstrating his pace during practice as well as qualifying to score a promising 12th on the grid.
From 12th, VeeKay proved capable of holding his own in the top half of the IndyCar field. After the familiar melée of the opening laps, the #21 Bitcoin Racing Team with BitNile Chevrolet driver had found his stride racing in P12 when on lap 16 of the scheduled 110, the Dutchman came in for his first stop, swapping the hard tyre for the soft compound.
VeeKay was circulating the Portland circuit in a smart and controlled way, as the talented twentysomething managed to stay away from overconfident overtaking and instead chose his passing moves wisely. Gradually, As he gradually passed one rival after another, VeeKay and managed to successfully overtake reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion Alex Palou shortly after his second stop.
A successful third stop put VeeKay in ninth with 27 laps to go when the Ed Carpenter driver pulled a pass on Jimmie Johnson, only to accidentally and unwittingly hitting his American rival while turning in. When Johnson hit the wall, forcing him to retire, the stewards had no choice but to penalise VeeKay.
As a consequence, the Dutchman was obliged to serve a drivethrough penalty shortly before the end of the race, dropping him down from ninth to 21st. The fact that he finished in 20th failed to make his disappointment any less. VeeKay had been completely unaware of the incident during the race, but afterwards graciously held up his hand.
“What a bummer”, VeeKay said from Portland. “It was a good race until that single moment. I thought I had made the pass. In fact, I didn’t even feel the tap, so I was genuinely surprised when the team told me I had been given a drivethrough penalty.”
“This was so unnecessary. We had the pace for eighth or ninth, and based on our lap times today we belonged there. Compared to the difficult weekend we had in Portland last year, this was a good step forward. It’s a shame I didn’t finish this race with a top-ten finish. I feel responsible for this accident. Even though I honestly thought I was well ahead, I ruined Jimmie’s race and mine, all in one turn of the steering wheel.”
It’s a small boost that VeeKay has improved on his personal points record, having scored 315 points against the 308 points that he reached in 2021. This puts VeeKay in 11th in the 2022 IndyCar standings. “That's a good thing”, said VeeKay, looking at his points tally. “However, it doesn’t change today’s result. I’m going to give my all for the last race of this season, because I want to finish with a good result”, said the Dutchman in fighting spirits.
The 2022 NTT IndyCar Series will come to a close this Sunday, with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey acting as the season’s final showdown. The venue is the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in California, the race will start at 21.30hrs Dutch time and can be followed live on Ziggo Sport Racing.