VeeKay Advances to Second Round of Qualifying; Conor Daly Qualifies Inside of Row 10
(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) April 24, 2021 – Qualifying Notes
- Rinus VeeKay will start 7th in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, only his second street course race in an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car. His first was the 2020 edition, which will have taken place exactly six months prior to tomorrow’s race. VeeKay’s Ed Carpenter Racing teammate Conor Daly will roll off from the 19th position.
- Two 45-minute practice sessions preceded this afternoon’s qualifying, during which VeeKay turned 27 laps and Daly managed 25. Qualifying groups are based on the lap times from the previous practice session, assigning Daly to Group 1. He took to the 1.8-mile street circuit on a set of sticker black Firestone Firehawks, switching to sticker reds after three laps. He ended the 10-minute session in the 10th position with a lap of 1:01.4220. After all three rounds of qualifying were completed and the pole winner was determined, Daly’s best lap in the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet translated into the 19th starting position on tomorrow’s grid.
- With the same plan as Daly, VeeKay went out immediately on sticker black tires in Group 2 and turned three laps. The No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet crew completed a hot pit stop to red Firehawks and VeeKay was back on track in a matter of seconds. On his first lap at speed on the red tires, VeeKay was trapped behind a much slower car who was on his out lap. VeeKay shook off his frustration and shot to the top of the timing sheet when he was able to get in a clean lap. At the checkered flag, his lap of 1:00.5414 had him fourth and earned him a spot in Round 2.
- Round 2 also consisted of a 10-minute session and featured the fastest six cars from each group. After three laps on black tires, it was another pit stop to the remaining set of sticker reds. VeeKay again went directly to the top on his first lap and improved his time on his second lap to 1:00.4858. VeeKay was on pace to make the Firestone Fast Six, but barely missed out at the end and was bumped out following the checkered flag. He was 7th in Round 2, which will be his starting position on tomorrow’s grid.
- 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. 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. Earlier this week, Daly’s No. 47 U.S. Air Force car for the Indianapolis 500 was unveiled. The one-off scheme pays homage to the Tuskegee Airmen and is modeled off of their P-51 Mustangs used during World War II.
- Car care superstore Autogeek.com is featured on VeeKay’s No. 21 for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. This is the fourth year in a row that the Florida-based company has been featured on the No. 21 during their home race. Over the last 15 years, Autogeek has risen to become one of the most reputable and trusted sources for automotive detailing products and accessories. Through detailing how-to guides and instructional videos, Autogeek provides a wealth of car care know-how for detailers, hobbyists and car care enthusiasts.
- Daly and VeeKay will have one more practice to get their Chevrolets race-ready with a morning warmup session at 9:05 a.m. ET tomorrow. Live coverage of the 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will begin at 12 p.m. ET on NBC. The green flag is scheduled to fly at 12:42 p.m. ET.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Qualified 19th: “We just weren’t able to find the pace that we needed on the red tires in qualifying. Last weekend, we were able to nail it and get in to the Fast 12. Today, we just didn’t have it. A lot can happen in the race, there were a lot of people in the Lap 1 accident at Barber and ended up finishing in the Top 10. We’re going to try and make something great happen tomorrow with the U.S. Air Force Chevrolet. The plan is to keep working and be better tomorrow!”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet, Qualified 7th: “That was a pretty good qualifying, P7! I am not 100% satisfied, there was more in the car. I think we could have gone for pole with this Autogeek car. Very good job by the team! For tomorrow, seventh is not too bad to start from. We will show some great racing here in St. Pete!”