Double podium for Rinus VeeKay in Indy Lights at Mid-Ohio
TeamNL driver Rinus VeeKay has claimed two third positions in the seventh round of the Indy Lights Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
At the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course the 18-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands started the first race from sixth position to finish third after a race with several great overtaking maneuvers. In the second race, the Juncos Racing driver finished third again, less than half a second short of the second position. For the young Dutchman it was his ninth podium finish out of thirteen Indy Lights races this season.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course, was host to round number seven of the Indy Lights Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. The combination and layout of the corners make overtaking difficult, and that made qualifying and a good starting position for the two races even more important. TeamNL driver Rinus VeeKay was immediately up to speed and recorded the quickest elapsed time in practice. But in qualifying for race one, an issue with the floor of his car caused serious downforce problems and the 18-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands couldn’t do better than sixth position. With a repaired car VeeKay proved that the right pace was there, by claiming the second position in qualifying for race two.
Starting from sixth on the grid, VeeKay gained one position at the start of the race. After two laps the driver in front of him made a mistake and spun. That handed the TeamNL driver another position, but to avoid a collision, he had to brake and that created a gap to the number three position of more than three seconds. With quick lap times VeeKay started to make up ground and when a crash caused a safety car situation, the Juncos Racing driver was back in the slipstream of the top three. At the restart of the race his tires were a bit too cold and it took VeeKay a few laps to get up to speed again. Back in the slipstream of the driver in front of him, VeeKay tried to overtake him, but was blocked two times and was even pushed on to the grass. The third attempt was successful and with a great move VeeKay took over the number three position. In the last five laps VeeKay was able to bring down the gap to the number two position from 3.3 to 0.9 seconds, but he ran out of time to gain another position. VeeKay’s charge from sixth on the grid earned him his third Tilton Hard Charger Award of the season. “The track was very slippery and it took a few laps before my tires had the right temperature and I was up to speed. It was a great fight for the third position and when I got by, the team told me ‘you can still do it’, but in the end we ran out of time to gain the second position. But it was a good recovery from my qualifying position, another podium and points,” said VeeKay about the first race of the weekend.
The second race was less exciting for VeeKay, but he still claimed another third position. At the start VeeKay remained second, but he once again had problems with too cold tires and lack of grip. Because the driver in his slipstream could use the push-to-pass, he was able to overtake VeeKay at the main straight of the track. When his tires had the right temperature, VeeKay was able to stay within one second of the number two. In the final stage of the race the Juncos Racing driver closed the gap and put some pressure on the driver in front of him, but he remained third, less than half a second short of the number two position. It was VeeKay’s ninth podium out of thirteen Indy Lights races this season and his 31th podium in the Road to Indy series. “It took too long until I finally had the grip I needed. In the final stage of the race I lacked the speed to claim the second position,” said VeeKay. Mid-Ohio has always been a difficult track for Juncos Racing as the team scored only one podium finish in the last five years. With his double podium VeeKay improved these statistics dramatically.
Because Oliver Askew won both races, VeeKay is now 45 points behind the leader in second position, with five races to go. VeeKay will now start his preparations for the IndyCar test on August 7th at Portland. The next race of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires is at the Gateway Motorsports Park oval, August 24th .