By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
NTT IndyCar Series rookie Rinus VeeKay continued proving his worth after ending up sixth fastest (231.114 mph) in Saturday’s opening qualifying round for the 104th Indianapolis 500.
Not only was the 19-year-old sensation from Ed Carpenter Racing was the fastest rookie, he’ll also be the lone representative for Chevrolet as the rest of the Fast Nine shootout drivers are Honda powered engines.
VeeKay’s superb four-lap average speed, highlighted with an opening lap speed of 231.789 mph, took place very early in the session as he was the fourth man out, something he looked back as a positive because he was responsible of drawing his qualifying order Friday.
“Pretty good day at the office! I was lucky yesterday with the draw and had a good run this morning. Fourth driver out and I think the temperature really helped us,” said VeeKay, driver of the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet.
Certainly, qualifying earlier had its perks, but he had to wait until the bitter end to officially be classified sixth which he admitted he began getting impatient, especially when Scott Dixon appeared to be on his way to put up an even better four-lap run until the effort was waived past 4:50 p.m. ET.
“I knew the temperatures were rising. Not everybody was going to improve, which that was the case. I only got jumped by Scott Dixon at the end,” VeeKay added. “I’m happy so yeah, lot of waiting which I didn’t like, but I’m very happy now.”
Sunday’s shootout begins at 1:00 p.m. ET on NBC and with VeeKay being the only racer out of the Chevy camp and winds expecting to be 15 mph, he’s ready for the challenge because Saturday’s session was the hardest part of an already impressive month.
“Being the only Chevrolet driver in the Fast Nine is also something to feel good about. Tomorrow is another day,” said VeeKay. “It almost feels like the hardest part is over, the waiting is so hard! Tomorrow we can just go and qualify! For the race, everything is going to be different, but we have a good race car. I’m very confident.”