Daly Will Start 6th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Rinus VeeKay Qualifies 7th for Tomorrow’s Race
(INDIANAPOLIS) May 14, 2021 – Qualifying Notes
- Conor Daly made his first career Firestone Fast 6 appearance today against a fitting backdrop: his hometown track, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In his new MannKind Corporation colors, Daly advanced through each round of qualifying. He will start 6th in tomorrow’s GMR Grand Prix, his best start at the road course. Teammate Rinus VeeKay also had a strong run, narrowly missing out on the Fast 6 himself. The 20-year-old will start 7th.
- Before this afternoon’s qualifying, Daly and VeeKay participated in two 45-minute practice sessions. Both had a strong morning session with Daly setting the 10th-fastest lap of all competitors while VeeKay was 3rd. In the afternoon practice, VeeKay was again near the top of the charts, finishing 2nd with a lap of 126.515 miles per hour (mph). On the faster red Firestone Firehawks, Daly was able to top his best speed by over a mile an hour with a 125.575 mph lap.
- Qualifying groups are based on the lap times from the previous practice session, assigning VeeKay to Group 1. He carried his speed from practice directly into qualifying, setting the fastest lap of all cars in his group. In the closing seconds of Round 2, VeeKay was bumped down to 7th. As only the Top 6 times advance to the final round, VeeKay’s Round 2 result is his starting position for the GMR Grand Prix.
- Daly sat 13th of 13 cars after his first run on black Firestone Firehawks in Round 1, Group 2, but a switch to red tires was exactly what he needed. The No. 20 MannKind Chevrolet shot up to 4th on the timing sheet, easily advancing to the second round. Another run on sticker red Firehawks had him 4th at the conclusion of the next 10-minute session and in position to make his first Firestone Fast 6 shootout. His final run on scuffed red tires will have him starting on the outside of the third row in tomorrow’s race.
- The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is home to several of VeeKay’s career milestones. In just his second NTT INDYCAR SERIES start last July, VeeKay earned his first Top 5 finish in the GMR Grand Prix. When he returned to IMS in August, he recorded the best qualifying result by a teenager in Indianapolis 500 history (4th) and was the fastest rookie in the field. In October, he won his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position, led the first laps of his Indy car career and earned his first podium finish on the IMS road course.
- The GMR Grand Prix was Daly’s first race with ECR last year. He had not competed on the IMS road course in several years, but it was not evident as he advanced to the second round and secured himself a solid starting position inside the Top 10. The 29-year-old has a bold new look for this year’s GMR Grand Prix due to an elevated partnership with MannKind Corporation. The No. 20 MannKind Chevrolet features an edgy “Tired of Pricks?” tagline – a purposeful wordplay designed to draw attention to NeedleFreeInsulin.com. Daly is living with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) and will help raise awareness about diabetes and innovative management options.
- A warm-up session will kick off tomorrow’s on-track activities for Daly and VeeKay as they’ll have a half an hour to perfect their Chevrolets, beginning at 10:45 a.m. ET. NBC’s coverage of the GMR Grand Prix will begin at 2 p.m. ET while the green flag will wave for the 85-lap race at 2:45 p.m. ET.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 MannKind Chevrolet, Qualified 6th: “Today was a very, very exciting day for me! My first time in the Firestone Fast 6 – it took me a while to get there! We’ve done a lot of work to get this car to suit my driving style a bit more and today was a great example of that work paying off. We have a really great starting spot for tomorrow. I am very, very happy with what the Ed Carpenter Racing team has done. To be able to do this for MannKind and NeedleFreeInsulin.com in their first race is super fantastic. Can’t wait to go into battle tomorrow!”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet, Qualified 7th: “Qualifying was going really well and I just made a little mistake in Round 2. We just missed out! We have great speed and have some more ideas to try in warm up tomorrow. I am very ready to race!”