Unfortunate IndyCar debut for Rinus VeeKay
Rinus VeeKay’s debut in the NTT IndyCar Series didn’t go according to plan and was the opposite of what the TeamNL driver had hoped for. After a crash in practice, VeeKay couldn’t take part in qualifying and had to start the race from 24th and last position. The 19-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands had a strong start to the race and was in 15th position when he overtook Santino Ferrucci. In that move he went on the dirt on the outside of the corner, spun, was hit by Alex Palou and damaged his car which brought an early end to the race of the driver of the Ed Carpenter Racing no. 21 car. “It was my own mistake. I feel sorry for the team. I have to learn from this and comeback stronger,” said VeeKay.
Three months after the scheduled kick-off in St. Petersburg (Florida), the lights finally turned green for the NTT IndyCar Series with the Genesys 300. For Rinus VeeKay his long-awaited debut in the American counterpart of the Formula 1. The Texas Motor Speedway is a real challenge for rookies like the TeamNL driver, at 19 years of age the youngest driver in the field. With speeds up to 350 km/h, the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval is one of most difficult tracks in the championship. The fact that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, practice, qualifying and the 200-lap race (300 miles) had to be contested in one day, made it even tougher.
In practice VeeKay was immediately confronted with the laws of oval racing. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver was running impressive lap times when he spun in lap twelve and hit the outside wall. “A rookie mistake. I went too low so I am angry and disappointed,” said VeeKay in a short reaction immediately after the incident. As there was limited time before the start of qualifying, the mechanics couldn’t repair the damage in time and the TeamNL driver had to skip qualifying and was forced to start the race from 24th and last position.
Despite his lack of track time on the Texas Motor Speedway, VeeKay had a great start to the race and impressed. After a few laps the young Dutchman was in 17th position and gained another position a few laps later. After 30 laps the gap to the leader of the race was still only nine seconds. After the first round of pits stops the TeamNL driver was in 15th position when it went wrong. On lap 38 VeeKay overtook Santino Ferrucci, had to go wide, went on the dirt on the outside of the corner, spun and was hit by another competitor.
The damaged Ed Carpenter Racing no. 21 car came to a halt and VeeKay was out of the race. “I got a little too high around Santino, lost the rear in the marbles and made contact with Alex Palou. It's very, very unfortunate. I expected my debut to be a lot different. I'm so sorry to the team. We'll get better from here. I had very limited time, a lot of learning, but unfortunately I crashed twice. I will have to sleep, think about it for a month and come back stronger. But our Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy was good," said a very disappointed VeeKay.
VeeKay will have to wait a while for his revenge. The second round of the NTT IndyCar Series is scheduled for July 4 on the road course of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
This season, Rinus VeeKay is supported by Ed Carpenter Racing, Sonax USA, Autogeek, Jumbo, La Place, Basic-Fit and the KNAF TeamNL program.