Young Dutchman Rinus VeeKay Leads Laps in Freedom 100
The 17th Annual Freedom 100 race ended in a nail-biting finish between Rinus VeeKay, Ryan Norman and Oliver Askew at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Day one on the oval began with IndyCar legend Arie Luyendyk mentoring VeeKay about racing on the historic 2.5-mile oval. Once the weather conditions improved, the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams were able to complete their scheduled 45 minutes of practice in advance for qualifying. Luyendyk took advantage of this time to bestow his wisdom about the 110 year-old circuit for VeeKay to utilize throughout the weekend.
"I feel honored to have Arie around me," said fellow Dutchman VeeKay. "Having such a legend by my side to give me advice is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will forever be grateful for."
The 18 year-old Mazda Motorsports scholarship driver began the 40-lap event from the seventh position. Shortly after the green flag waved, the Hoofddorp, Netherlands-native made his way up to fourth, skillfully avoiding a huge crash between Chris Windom and David Malukas.
Officials would red flag the race for nearly ten minutes before engines were re-started. VeeKay immediately picked up from where he left off, slicing and dicing for the top positions. For the majority of the nail-biting race, VeeKay and Norman traded the lead lap after lap, eager to cross the yard of bricks first to claim the Freedom 100 title. When the white flag flew, VeeKay was unfortunate to lose touch with the leading duo of Askew and Norman due to congestion on the race track, but was able to bring the car home in a very solid third position which adds vital points to his championship tally.
"In the end, I'm happy with the result and with the points," said VeeKay. "Coming from Europe, racing on the oval is a whole new experience. It is much larger and quicker than any other track but it was a good race for my first time on a super speedway. There were so many people cheering, I could hear them, feel them, and wanted to reciprocate their energy. I will never forget it."
Up next for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires is the iconic Road America road course, June 21-23 in Elkhart Lake, Wis. for Rounds 8-9. VeeKay now sits second in the championship, just 11 points behind Askew. Fans can watch the action live online on NBC Sports Gold.