Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay Begin Their 2021 Campaigns This Weekend at Barber Motorsports Park
(INDIANAPOLIS) April 14, 2021 – Preview Notes
- For the tenth time, Ed Carpenter Racing is entering a new NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Featuring the same driver lineup as last year, the Indianapolis-based race team is ready to bring a new level of continuity to the first race of 2021. Rinus VeeKay, 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year, is back for his second year as full-time driver of the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet. Conor Daly has also returned, driving the No. 20 Chevrolet for the road and street course events. Barber Motorsports Park outside of Birmingham, Ala. will host the season-opener this weekend.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet: ““To kick off the season at Barber Motorsports Park is very exciting. It feels like forever since I’ve raced there, back in 2017. I can’t wait to return, what a great circuit! We tested strongly there, which is really encouraging. Both Rinus VeeKay and I have been pretty confident in our cars. To get this season started with the U.S. Air Force and Chevrolet power, I’m so ready for that. We know our car looks cool, now it’s time to go get some trophies with it!”
- Conor Daly has returned to Ed Carpenter Racing for a second season and will compete in 14 of 17 events this year. In 2020, he split his talent between two teams. The 29-year-old drove the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet for ECR during the road and street course events and the No. 47 in the Indianapolis 500. While ECR team owner Ed Carpenter raced the No. 20 on ovals, Daly stepped into Carlin’s No. 59. In addition to four Top 10 finishes, Daly earned his first career pole position at Iowa Speedway.
- Beginning as a one-off 2018 Indianapolis 500 entry, Daly and the U.S. Air Force have grown to be synonymous in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The design of Daly’s 2021 road and street course car celebrates the U.S. Air Force’s B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. The No. 20 was painted in ECR’s race shop and features a pattern of silver, blue and black silhouettes of the only stealth bomber in the world. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program. Its low-observable, or “stealth,” characteristics give it the unique ability to penetrate an enemy’s most sophisticated defenses and threaten its most valued and heavily defended targets.
- Daly climbed into a kart for the first time at the age of 10. Within five years he was competing in both United States and international open-wheel ladder systems. After finding success in each, he made the decision to concentrate solely on American motorsports in 2015. Over the past seven years, the Noblesville, Ind., native has competed in over 60 Indy car races. Known for a desire to sharpen his skills by racing in different disciplines, Daly has recently competed in USAC Midgets, Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet: “I am excited to start my second season, excited to go racing, excited to get adrenaline in my veins! We had two great tests at Barber Motorsports Park in the offseason and we were fast in both. Of course, that doesn’t say how the race weekend is going to go, but it definitely shows we have the pace. It’s a cool track. I’m super ready and feel very confident, we have a strong car. We should have a good opening weekend of the season!”
- Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet will also feature a familiar name as Rinus VeeKay continues as the team’s full-time driver. VeeKay’s debut NTT INDYCAR SERIES campaign was full of milestones, culminating in the 2020 Rookie of the Year title. 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. When VeeKay returned to IMS 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.
- VeeKay’s No. 21 will also sport a new look for the 2021 season, featuring the colors of SONAX USA. SONAX Car Care is an innovative manufacturer of premium car care products for optimum maintenance, protection and rejuvenation of vehicles. All products are developed and manufactured in Neuburg, Germany, where SONAX was founded over 50 years ago. Today, the brand is represented in 80 countries around the world and is available in the U.S. through car care superstore Autogeek.com.
- Born in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, Rinus van Kalmthout began karting in 2009 at the age of 8. With sights set firmly on the pinnacle of North American open wheel racing, he transitioned to the Road to Indy in 2017 and launched his U.S. career driving as Rinus VeeKay. He found immediate success, following up a second-place finish in the 2017 USF2000 standings with the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 title. Before joining ECR, VeeKay claimed six race wins and finished on the podium 14 of 18 times en route to a runner-up finish in 2019 Indy Lights standings.
ED CARPENTER RACING
- Now with 250 race starts, 2021 will mark Ed Carpenter Racing’s 10th season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition. ECR began as a single-car organization in 2012, expanding to two full-time entries in 2015. For the first time since having multiple entries, the team will enjoy the continuity of having the same driver lineup from the previous season. The trio of Carpenter, Daly and VeeKay will again make up ECR’s three-car lineup for the Indianapolis 500.
- ECR is led by Ed Carpenter, the only individual in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES who handles both the responsibility of driving the racecar and owning his own team. As one of the most experienced drivers in the field, 2021 will be Carpenter’s 19th season of Indy car competition. He solidified his status as a hometown favorite when he scored back-to-back pole positions for the Indianapolis 500 in 2013 and 2014, then again in 2018. Carpenter’s first race weekend of the season will be the Texas Motor Speedway oval, where won in 2014.
- Day-to-day operations at ECR remain under the direction of General Manager Tim Broyles and chief mechanic Bret Schmitt. Leadership on the No. 21 also features consistency with ECR chief engineer Matt Barnes serving as VeeKay’s lead engineer and Jeff Frederick as crew chief. Peter Craik continues as lead engineer for the No. 20 and the team has welcomed Jeff Grahn as crew chief. Strategists will again be Brent “Woody” Harvey for VeeKay and Broyles for the No. 20 car, a position he has held since ECR’s first race in 2012. Nearly a dozen of the team’s 40 employees are original hires, including Broyles, Schmitt, Barnes and Harvey.
BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK
- As the 2020 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 event will be VeeKay’s first NTT INDYCAR SERIES event at the 2.38-mile road course while Daly competed in 2016 and 2017. Both drivers tested twice at Barber Motorsports Park over the offseason, once in early November 2020 and then late February 2021. Based on unofficial lap times, VeeKay was the fastest driver in both tests and Daly posted Top 6 lap times each day. ECR was the winning team at Barber Motorsports Park in 2015 with Josef Newgarden behind the wheel.
- The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be a two-day event for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Two practice sessions on Saturday will be followed by late afternoon qualifying, all streaming live through NBC’s Peacock Premium. The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES will officially begin at 3:42 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 18 at the drop of the green flag for the 90-lap race. Live coverage will begin at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.