Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay Return to Florida for the Season-Finale Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
INDIANAPOLIS (October 20, 2020) – Race Preview
- Only one race remains on the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar. Originally scheduled to be the season-opening event, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will now be the season finale. In March, Ed Carpenter Racing had made the trip to Florida before the season was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This weekend, drivers Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay will return to finish out their 2020 campaigns through the downtown city street course.
- The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has become the only street circuit the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will compete on this season as the other events were put on hold until 2021. Not only are Daly and VeeKay familiar with the 1.8-mile, 14-turn layout, both have won races in the streets of St. Petersburg. VeeKay competed in six Road to Indy races in St. Pete, scoring five podiums and three wins. Daly won from the pole in the 2010 Indy Pro 2000 event, his very first Road to Indy start. He has competed in two previous Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg events, leading the race as a rookie in 2016.
- VeeKay’s debut NTT INDYCAR SERIES campaign has been full of milestones. In only his second race, the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, he earned his first Top 5 finish. By starting 4th in the Indianapolis 500, he recorded the best qualifying result by a teenager in Indianapolis 500 history. The only Chevrolet-powered driver in the Fast Nine Shootout was also the fastest rookie in the field. The next week, he recorded his highest oval finish of the year at WWT Raceway with a 4th place. When VeeKay returned to the IMS road course as a 20-year-old for the Harvest GP, he won his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position, led the first laps of his Indy car career and earned his first podium finish. The Dutchman will clinch the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year title by taking the green flag for Sunday’s race.
- Daly returned to full-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition in 2020, splitting his time between Ed Carpenter Racing and Carlin. Daly will have competed for ECR in the eight road and street course events and the Indianapolis 500. At IMS, he turned the second-fastest practice lap of the month at 232.337 mph. His top qualifying with ECR came last month at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course when he started 4th. During the five other oval races when team owner Ed Carpenter was behind the wheel of the No. 20, Daly drove for Carlin. The 28-year-old earned four Top 10 finishes and won first career pole position at Iowa Speedway.
- VeeKay’s No. 21 will finish out the season in the colors of both Autogeek.com and SONAX USA. This year will be the third in a row that Florida-based Autogeek.com has been featured on the No. 21 in their home race. Over the last 15 years, the car care superstore has risen to become one of the most reputable and trusted sources for automotive detailing products and accessories. As one of the United States’ largest distributors of European-made car care products, Autogeek.com was chosen by SONAX USA to be one of a few select U.S. retailers. Made in Germany, SONAX is a market leader in car care products, offering a highly competitive and extensive range of products for the cleaning and care of vehicles.
- Daly has represented the U.S. Air Force for last three years. Historical U.S. Air Force components were woven together to create the No. 20’s striking livery for the road and street course events. The car salutes the A-10 Thunderbolt, the P-40 Warhawk, the P-51 Mustang and the Air Force Academy. At the Indianapolis 500, when Carpenter drove the No. 20 U.S. Space Force Chevrolet, Daly shifted over to the team’s third entry. The No. 47 was selected for Daly’s “500” car with double significance. The U.S. Air Force was officially founded on September 18, 1947 and on October 14, 1947, the Bell X-1 became the first crewed aircraft to exceed the speed of sound. Daly’s car was painted bright orange as a tribute to the experimental U.S. Air Force rocket plane.
- The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be a two-day event with limited spectator access as approved by the City of St. Petersburg under specific COVID-19 protocols. Daly and VeeKay will have one practice session late Saturday morning, October 24, before qualifying in the afternoon. Both will be streamed live on NBC Sports Gold, along with Sunday morning’s warm-up session. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on NBC, beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET on October 25. The green flag will fly for the 2020 season finale at 2:32 p.m. ET.
|CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet: “It’s pretty hard to believe my first street course with Ed Carpenter Racing will be in October! It has been a decade since I last won in St. Pete in the Indy Pro 2000 championship, which is wild to think about. Love the track, love the city, love the event. We obviously want to finish strong for the U.S. Air Force, Chevrolet and all of the incredible people that have worked so hard for us all year long. I’m very excited to get down there and get going!”|
|RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet: “It will be so nice to come back to St. Petersburg! We are finally returning after being there earlier this year, but we were not able to race. Hopefully, I can secure my Rookie of the Year title, it will be a very nice achievement! I am really looking forward to the race. First street course race of the season as the last race, that’s very cool! I’ve always had good races in St. Pete in the Road to Indy and I cannot wait to hustle around there with an Indy car!”|