By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Rookie Rinus VeeKay made a big statement in Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix, finishing fifth at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.
This comes a month after his disastrous NTT IndyCar Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway where he wrecked two cars, causing some ire from his boss Ed Carpenter. Fortunately, the 19-year-old put that nightmare behind and focused on having a contrasting performance at the 2.439-mile road course.
Mission was accomplished and certainly will put a smile on Carpenter’s face as VeeKay’s No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet hit tremendous strides throughout the 80-lap contest by giving it his all. More so after starting from the 18th position and capitalizing on the lone full course caution on Lap 36.
The caution was caused by fellow rookie Oliver Askew, who’s No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet lost control in Turn 14 and backed it into the wall. Askew ended up last out of the 26-car grid, something he finds both “unfortunate and unacceptable.”
“I just lost the rear of the car,” said Askew. “It was toward the end of a stint so the rears were starting to go which caught me off guard. I’m really sorry to the entire Arrow McLaren SP team but we will move on and push for a good result in Road America next weekend.”
With Askew’s retirement, VeeKay and the entire No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing squad continued improving. Even opting of going from the alternate red Firestone tires to the primary blacks on his final stop.
The idea paid off as he got his first career top-five in just his second INDYCAR start. He also gained a lot of points as he’ll head to the doubleheader at Road America (July 11-12) 11th in the championship trail and ahead of 18th place points man Askew for Rookie of the Year by 11 points.
“I drove the best race of my whole career,” said VeeKay. “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!”
Happy he sure was as shown from ECR’s Twitter account when the fifth-place finisher spoke with his family.
— Ed Carpenter Racing (@ECRIndy) July 4, 2020