Rinus VeeKay impresses with a superb top five finish in only his second NTT IndyCar Series start
Rinus VeeKay impressed in the best possible way at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by claiming the fifth position in what was only his second start in the NTT IndyCar Series. The great performance of the 19-year-old TeamNL talent was even more impressive as the driver of the Ed Carpenter Racing number 21 car had to start the race from 18th position. Being both quick and consistent, in combination with a clever pit stop strategy, VeeKay was able to make his way through the field to finish in fifth position, only a few seconds short of the driver in second position. “What a great race! I have never been this happy,” VeeKay said immediately after the race.
After the opening round at the Texas Motor Speedway oval, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was host to round number two of the NTT IndyCar Series. For the GMR Grand Prix the drivers didn’t make use of the world famous oval, but they raced on the Indianapolis road course, the combination of two corners of the oval and the infield track with several challenging corners. In his first IndyCar start on a road course, TeamNL driver Rinus VeeKay was immediately up to speed. At 19 years of age, VeeKay is the youngest driver in the field. The driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands topped the timing sheets several times in practice, to finish the session in 17th position.
In qualifying, VeeKay had to start in the second group and to advance to the second part of the qualifying session, he had to finish in the top six. As the qualifying session lasted only ten minutes, good timing was very important and unfortunately there it went wrong. The team sent him out too late, thus VeeKay was only able to do one instead of two flying laps on soft red tires. The TeamNL driver finished the qualifying session of his group in 9th position, thus he had to start the race from 18th position on the grid.
“We had a pretty good first run on blacks, then went to reds. I anticipated having two flying laps, but at the end of my first one I caught the checkered flag. It's a bummer. I think we could have done better if we'd had a second lap. We're starting 18th, which isn't where we wanted to be, but we'll make the best of it.”
And that ‘making the best of it’ is exactly what the young Dutchman did in the race. Starting from 18th position on the grid, VeeKay immediately gained one position, to make an early pit stop for fresh red tires on lap number six. That was a great move from the team, because in free air and no cars around him, VeeKay was the quickest driver on the track. By the time all of the drivers had made their first pit stop, the TeamNL driver was in seventh position. After the second cycle of pit stops and a great overtaking maneuver, VeeKay was fifth, a position in which he remained after his third and final pit stop.
In the final stages of the race VeeKay tried to overtake Colton Herta for fourth position, but was hit by the American driver. In the last couple of laps former Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson put some pressure on VeeKay, but the young Dutchman didn’t give way and claimed the fifth position in only his second start in the NTT IndyCar Series. Only 0.1 second short of winner Scott Dixon, VeeKay recorded the second quickest lap time of the race. VeeKay is also the new leader in the rookie championship and with 38 points the Ed Carpenter Racing driver is 11th in the general championship ranking. “I drove the best race of my whole career. The team just gave me a great car, great strategy to go from P18 to P5. I drove my butt off. I have never been this tired after a race, but that’s what you get when you give 110%. Thank you to my guys and everyone at SONAX and Autogeek. I’m the happiest guy on earth right now,” said VeeKay after his great race.
Next weekend VeeKay can show his speed again. Rounds 3 and 4 of the NTT IndyCar Series will take place at Road America, July 11-12, a venue where the TeamNL driver has secured three wins in three seasons on the Road to Indy.
This season, Rinus VeeKay is supported by Ed Carpenter Racing, Sonax USA, Autogeek, Jumbo, La Place, Basic-Fit and the KNAF TeamNL program.
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