Rinus Veekay claims front-row start for the Indianapolis 500
Following in the footsteps of Arie Luyendyk, Rinus 'VeeKay' van Kalmthout will be the second Dutchman ever to start from the front row for the legendary Indianapolis 500, as the 20-year old Dutchman set third fastest time during the Fast Nine session.
VeeKay's fifth-place finish on the Indianapolis 500’s first day of qualifying got him into Sunday afternoon’s Fast Nine session. Here, the fastest nine drivers from Saturday's session battle for the coveted pole position. VeeKay completed his four mandatory qualifying laps with an average speed of 231.511 miles per hour, or 372.581 kilometres per hour. The four-lap average was good enough for third on the grid.
During Saturday qualifying, Chevrolet-engined cars lost out to the superior Honda engine, as seven of the Fast Nine entrants were powered by Honda engines. Only VeeKay and his team owner and teammate Ed Carpenter made it into the top nine using Chevrolet power, with VeeKay ending up the fastest Chevy-powered driver. Carpenter, who has taken pole position for the Indianapolis 500 three times in the past, finished fourth in the all-important final segment of qualifying.
For VeeKay, starting from third is an improvement on last year’s performance, as in his first appearance at the Indianapolis 500 he started from fourth. Reigning champion Scott Dixon is the polesitter for the NTT IndyCar Series’ most important race, the New Zealander registering an average of 231.685 mph (372.861 kph). Between Dixon and VeeKay, Colton Herta took second on the grid for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of The Year claimed a special record with his performance, as at 20 years and 254 days, VeeKay is the youngest driver in the 105-year history of the Indianapolis 500 to start from the front row of the grid.
It’s the second time in the history of the Indianapolis 500 that a Dutchman will start from P3. This happened earlier in 1990 when Arie Luyendyk notched up his first of two Indy 500 victories starting from that position.
VeeKay also moved up one place in the IndyCar championship standings, as the top nine finishers in Indy 500 qualifying receive bonus points. As a result, VeeKay's tally now stands at 142 points, putting him in fifth.
“It was on the edge but I kept my foot on the throttle”, VeeKay recalls from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after a spectacular Fast Nine run in which he experienced a scary moment of oversteer in Turn One on the final lap. “I knew beforehand that the first corner would be the hardest. Once I got through that, the other three corners would be relatively easier for me.”
“These four laps were the best four laps I have ever driven. I'm extremely happy to have hauled the #21 Bitcoin Chevrolet onto the front row of the grid. Ed Carpenter Racing did a great job. My team owner Ed will start in fourth, on the inside of the second row, and together we are the best Chevrolet drivers. I would like to thank Chevrolet because I was happy with the engine. Now, of course, I want to go for the milk and the Borg Warner Trophy!”
The 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Presented by Gainbridge will take place next Sunday, May 30. Ziggo Sport Racing will broadcast the race from 18.00hrs Dutch time.