VeeKay excels with fourth place at Mid Ohio
Rinus ‘VeeKay’ van Kalmthout has started the second half of the 2022 NTT INDYCAR Series season in fine form by crowning an excellent fine race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a strong fourth place.
After a three-week break, VeeKay and his fellow IndyCar drivers were ready to resume their season in Ohio. The 21-year old Dutchman had started the year in a positive way, capped by an excellent Month of May, but the talented twentysomething was left disappointed by what happened in June, as top results at Detroit and Road America stayed out of reach due to personal error as well as an unwilling car.
So it was time for VeeKay to put his house in order, the driver of the #21 Bitcoin Racing Team with BitNile Chevrolet heading to Ohio in high spirits – and no wonder, since he managed to deliver some very strong races there in the past. In Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session, VeeKay again succeeded in qualifying for the Fast Twelve, the Dutchman ending up 11th on the grid.
At the start of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, VeeKay had to tread carefully as he was pushed down two places in the melee of the first few corners. Trying to catch up from 13th position meant that it would be a tricky race, as the Mid-Ohio circuit is known to be a real challenge for both driver and machine – and overtaking is not easy. This forced Ed Carpenter Racing to reconsider its strategy.
As a result, VeeKay was brought in for his first stop after 24 of the 80 laps, earlier than most of his rivals, ECR and VeeKay attempting a so-called undercut. The plan succeeded – after the first series of pit stops, VeeKay found himself up in seventh. By stopping earlier than the rest and producing a series of lightning fast laps, the Dutchman had jumped much of the competition that he had trailed before.
After a caution period halfway through the race, it was VeeKay’s turn to shine. A stroke of genius allowed the Dutchman to blast past multiple champions Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden in one bold move, before he also outsmarted polesitter Pato O'Ward. The bright orange car was in P4 from that point on, a position that VeeKay would not relinquish until the finish. The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio was won by New Zealander Scott McLaughlin.
“Finally a good day”, VeeKay rejoiced from the United States. “I started eleventh, but didn’t get off the line very well, so I lost a few places as a result. Fortunately, during my first stint I was able to keep up with the cars in front of me, after which it was a smart strategic move to come in earlier than the rest – when everyone else had made their first pit stop, I was seventh. After that it was up to me to perform with some tough overtakes!”
“After the pass in which I took Dixon and Newgarden on the outside in one go, I caught up with Will Power. However, he turned out to have fresh soft tyres, whereas mine were a few laps old. When I tried to overtake he didn’t budge, so I just missed out on the podium. But that’s okay – fourth at this track is a top result that makes both me and the team very happy.”
“Let this one put my series of lesser results in the past. I am very positive about the outcome of this first race after our short break and hope to continue the trend in Toronto. It’s a circuit I have good memories of, and now I finally get to race it in an IndyCar car.”
Thanks to his fourth place, VeeKay scored 32 championship points, so after nine of 17 races, his tally stands at 193 points, good enough for 12th in the standings.
The 2022 NTT INDYCAR Series continues in Canada in two weeks’ time when the Honda Indy Toronto is scheduled to take place. The Exhibition Place in downtown Toronto will host the only race outside the United States this year. Due to the troubles of recent years, it will be the first time since 2019 that the Canadian metropolis will be visited, making it the first time for VeeKay, who debuted in 2020, to race an IndyCar in Toronto. The race will kick off on Sunday, July 17, around 9:30 pm Dutch time.