VeeKay showing his muscle on Gateway short oval
With an 11th-place finish at World Wide Technology Raceway, Rinus 'VeeKay' van Kalmthout once again finished his race weekend on a high, as the young Dutchman cleverly fought his way up from 20th on the grid for the 15th round of the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series.
VeeKay’s employer Ed Carpenter Racing is having a tough season, as only on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s oval the cars of team owner and namesake Ed Carpenter were able to race at the front while in the rest of the rounds they were forced to concede a lot to their competition. This means that it is up to VeeKay to deliver the maximum amount of damage limitation and the Dutchman is currently succeeding with flying colors.
On a weekly basis, VeeKay is stringing together strong race laps which, to the surprise of many in the paddock, has brought him within striking distance of the top ten. At the moment, the situation at Ed Carpenter Racing is challenging to the amount that a top-ten finish is considered a victory. It's hard work racing in the midfield – something in which VeeKay has become particularly skilled this season.
For the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, the first race of a trilogy of races concluding the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series, VeeKay qualified in 20th place. On a short oval, Ed Carpenter Racing's cars, including VeeKay's #21 BitNile Chevrolet, have a hard time putting down the lap times, as was witnessed by the performance of VeeKay's teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Ed Carpenter who got stuck behind VeeKay at the back of the grid.
In terms of putting up a fight in the midfield, VeeKay has mostly excelled in 2023. Continuing the theme, the talented twentysomething managed to work his way to the front in the chaotic opening lap of the oval race at Gateway. 20th on the grid was quickly turned into 17th in the opening stages of the race, and it would have been more had it not been for a crash at the rear that neutralized the race.
His fast pace helped VeeKay rise even higher, using that 17th place as a platform, as the Dutch driver currently living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was able to get involved in the top-ten battle. After his final pitstop, VeeKay eventually managed to seize 11th, which can nevertheless be described as a strong result. Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay also came to the fore to finish in 14th, while team owner Ed Carpenter crossed the finish line in 24th.
“Another good race, and after my tough qualifying session I didn't quite expect that,” said an honest VeeKay from St. Louis. “With 20th on the grid it is safe to say that the pace was not there in qualifying, but fortunately I managed to move up in the race itself.”
"At both the start of the race and the restarts I was able to make some decisive overtakes. For the rest it was a matter of staying out of trouble. Indeed, in the race it proved difficult to overtake my rivals on pure pace. At Gateway, everyone uses the same line and there is a lot of dirty air, which makes it a race in which people mostly follow each other."
"I am satisfied with my own performance and the resulting 11th place, I can honestly say that I got the most out of it. Our focus now shifts to the final two races. First we go to Portland – I am highly motivated to post yet another good result," VeeKay said with his usual fighting spirit.
The 2023 NTT IndyCar Series continues next weekend at Portland International Raceway. Next Sunday, September 3, the BitNile.com Grand Prix of Portland will kick off around 9:20 p.m. Dutch time.