VeeKay keeps up fighting spirit after tough race at Indy
The Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Road Course hasn’t brought the desired result for Rinus 'VeeKay' van Kalmthout. The 20-year old Dutchman finished at the back after a difficult race.
Whereas VeeKay won the GMR Grand Prix three months ago, the first of two races on Indy’s Road Course, the Ed Carpenter Racing driver was unable to stay with the frontrunners during the August edition of the event. After Friday night’s tough qualifying session VeeKay had to settle for ninth on the grid. Not a bad grid position in a field with 28 rivals but considering his earlier results at Indianapolis, VeeKay had hoped for a spot among the top six. On the hard-compound Firestone tyres VeeKay had produced some stunning lap times which proved unrepeatable on the softer rubber.
VeeKay started on the hard-compound Firestone tyre in the #21 SONAX Chevrolet and struggled to hold on to the top-ten in the opening stages of the 85-lap Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix. The car proved difficult to drive and was influenced more than usual by the airflow coming off its rival machines. After 13 laps, the team decided to bring in VeeKay for his first of three pit stops, swapping the hard compound for a set of the softer tyre.
With these so-called 'reds' fitted, VeeKay was able to enter the fray. The youngster, who won last year’s Rookie of the Year title, outpaced a number of his fellow competitors with a few daring overtaking moves, a feat that has become his trademark in the NTT IndyCar Series.
Battling in midfield, things sadly took a turn for the worse shortly before the end, as the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, based driver was tapped around by one of his rivals to lose valuable positions – and so the Dutchman ended the second meeting on the Indy Road Course in 24th place. The race was won by Will Power (Team Penske).
In the NTT IndyCar Series standings, VeeKay lost one place to winner Power. After 12 races – of which VeeKay competed in eleven – the ECR driver now sits in tenth position in the standings, having amassed 269 points.
“Today we had no pace at all. After Friday afternoon's practice, our pace collapsed like a house of cards and for the time being we are puzzled”, said an honest VeeKay from the United States. “In practice and during the first part of qualifying it went well, after that it didn’t, as from the second qualifying segment on I struggled with understeer. That remained the case in the warm-up and also in the race.”
“My rear tyres went up in smoke. Despite being very careful on the throttle and the brakes, I was suffering from quite a bit of wear. No one at Ed Carpenter Racing is to blame, I'm sure. ECR is a great team and they don’t just miss a beat when it comes to set-ups. I suspect something got damaged between sessions, because the car’s behaviour was inexplicable.”
“Nevertheless, I am satisfied with what I did myself”, said the Dutchman. “I did everything within my possibilities, but unfortunately those were limited today. Next weekend we race at Gateway, where we did a doubleheader last year. I finished in the top-ten twice during those two races – once in fourth and once in sixth. The track suits me. I am sure that the brains of my team will locate the issue and we will be able to fight for the top places again. I can't wait to get going!”
The NTT IndyCar Series season continues at the World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will be run on the Saturday night of 21 August to Sunday 22 August. The start of the race will be around 2.40am Dutch time.