Conor Daly Charges Up Through the Field After Being Run Off-Track on Lap 1
|(INDIANAPOLIS) October 2, 2020 – Race 1 Notes|
In the past 24 hours, Rinus VeeKay won his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position, led the first laps of his Indy car career and earned his first podium finish. In Race 1 of the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR, the young Dutchman finished 3rd. Teammate Conor Daly was driven off-course twice on the opening lap, but remained resilient and battled back up to a 12th place result.
VeeKay was the pole sitter for the first event of the Harvest GP doubleheader. The rookie earned his first NTT P1 Award yesterday for only his 12th NTT INDYCAR SERIES start. Daly had his qualifying session cut short by a red flag and was never able to turn a lap on Firestone’s red Firehawk tires. Daly, a hometown favorite at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, had to start Race 1 from the 14th position.
The opening lap was eventful for both Ed Carpenter Racing drivers. VeeKay and Colton Herta swapped the lead back and forth several times on Lap 1 before VeeKay secured the position. Daly was off to a flying start, but in the second half of Lap 1, he was driven off-track two times by two different drivers. He dropped all the way back to the 21st position.
After the opening lap melee, Daly was eager to get the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet outfitted with red Firehawks and continue his charge forward. He made a stop on Lap 10 was running higher than his starting position 20 laps later.
VeeKay paced the field until his first pit stop. The 15 laps he led were the first of his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career. He brought the No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet in on Lap 17 for black Firehawks and another spirited battle with Herta ensued. VeeKay would eventually settle into the third position, behind Herta and eventual race winner Josef Newgarden. On Lap 38, VeeKay stopped again for scuffed reds and retained the third position.
A second pit stop followed on Lap 35 for Daly and he cycled out in 13th position. As the caution-free race wore on, the field became more spread out around the 2.439-mile course. Passing opportunities for Daly were rare and he remained 13th. With 16 laps to go, Marco Andretti dropped out of the race, giving Daly the 12th spot. Despite dropping to the back of the field in the first lap of the race, Daly still managed to finish higher than his starting position.
VeeKay made his final pit stop on Lap 61. He selected red tires to finish out the race and was 5th following the last round of stops. Coming to the line on Lap 69, Will Power slid high, allowing VeeKay and Alexander Rossi to get by. Rossi drafted by VeeKay, putting VeeKay back to 5th once again. VeeKay closed the gap to positions 2-4 and was ready to pounce. When Felix Rosenqvist made a small error, VeeKay made the pass for the 4th position. Using his red tires to his advantage, VeeKay swung around Herta with less than four laps to go. The move would secure him 3rd place and a spot in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES podium celebration.
VeeKay’s podium finish is the 21st for Ed Carpenter Racing and first since Carpenter’s second place finish last season at WWT Raceway. VeeKay now has finishes of 6th (WWT Raceway), 5th (IMS road course), 4th (WWT Raceway) and 3rd (IMS road course). VeeKay, who turned 20 three weeks ago, is eligible for the 2020 Rookie of the Year title. He currently leads the standings with two races left this year.
As the INDYCAR Harvest GP is a doubleheader event, Daly and VeeKay will race another full-distance, points-paying race tomorrow, October 3. They will qualify at 10:20 a.m. ET, the only on-track activity before the Race 2. The second installment of the Harvest GP will be broadcast live on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET with the green flag falling one minute later.
|CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Finished 12th: “We had a great start, but sadly got driven off by two other competitors in the second half of Lap 1. The 59 car and the 18 car decided they didn’t want to leave a lane for me, even though I gave them plenty of room. Being sent off the track twice was a shame and really put us behind, but we had a great car and great pace. We started passing cars as soon as we got back going, which was nice. We tried to strategize our way forward, our pace was really good on reds there at the end. We definitely have improved our car since the last time we were here. We just need to be able to get a fair qualifying session in tomorrow and try to start up front like our teammate – then go for it!”|
|RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet, Finished 3rd: “Well, pretty good weekend so far! First pole yesterday, first podium today! It definitely wasn’t easy, but I’m very happy with a podium finish! I struggled on the blacks, but I had a great last 15 laps on the reds! I wish I could have done a little bit better, but a podium is a podium. Tomorrow is another day, we will have one less set of reds, but it’s 10 laps shorter of a race. Tonight, I’m happy!”|