RINUS VEEKAY BECOMES YOUNGEST FRONT ROW QUALIFIER IN INDY 500 HISTORY
VeeKay Qualifies 3rd for Next Sunday’s Race; ECR Team Owner Ed Carpenter Will Start 4th
INDIANAPOLIS (May 23, 2021) – Indianapolis 500 Fast Nine Qualifying Notes
- Rinus VeeKay cultivated another career milestone this afternoon as he has become the youngest front row qualifier in Indianapolis 500 history. The 20-year-old earned the 3rd starting spot for next Sunday’s race, placing an ECR car on the front row for the 7th time in nine years.
- A mere .0047 of a second separated VeeKay from team owner Ed Carpenter, who will start 4th in the 2021 Indianapolis 500. VeeKay’s four-lap average was 231.511 miles per hour, versus Carpenter’s speed of 231.504 mph. It will be the 6th time Carpenter has had a Top 10 start at Indianapolis in the past nine years.
- Ed Carpenter Racing’s first season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition was 2012, making the 2021 Indianapolis 500 the team’s 10th. For nine of those 10 years, ECR has had at least one car qualify in the first three rows. Excluding 2015, when the Firestone Fast Nine was cancelled due to weather, ECR has been in every Fast Nine since 2013. For the second year in a row, ECR was the only Chevrolet-powered team in the Fast Nine.
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 Bitcoin Chevrolet, Qualified 3rd: “I had a big moment on the last lap, in the first corner. I never lifted, but when I think back, maybe I should have! That last lap was the sketchiest lap I’ve ever done, but I kept my foot on the gas. I wanted it to be as on the limit as possible, so I kept the power on, even with all the wiggling. I knew Turn 1 would be the trickiest so once I got through, I thought it would be fine. Honestly, I couldn’t have gone any faster. I was happy to make the Fast Nine yesterday and now to have Chevy power taking me to the front row! I’m very happy for the team and very grateful for all the sleepless nights and hard work. I love Indy, and with the No. 21 Bitcoin Chevrolet, it’s such a pleasure. I have a great car and a great team around me, so I think we can go for the win next Sunday. The win last week has changed the spirit within the team and we are all extremely motivated. The entire month of May has been amazing.”
- Rinus VeeKay made two qualifying runs yesterday, his second with a four-lap average of 231.483 mph. It vaulted him from 12th to 5th, where he stayed for the duration of the day. Positions 1-9 at the end of the day advanced to today’s Firestone Fast Nine. The cars were inverted, with yesterday’s fastest qualifier going out last today. VeeKay was the 4th car to go out on the track, putting up a four-lap average of 231.511 mph. It would be good enough for 3rd overall today, placing him on the outside of the front row for next Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.
- VeeKay is the most recent winner in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, claiming his first career victory last Saturday on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. His sophomore season is off to a strong start, having scored four Top 10 finishes in five races. Those results have come on each type of track the NTT INDYCAR SERIES competes on, being a road course, a street course and an oval.
- ECR has partnered with Strike to fundraise on behalf of the Bitcoin community and support all necessary on-track activities for the Month of May. Strike will handle all payments and donations for the effort through its lighting network and payment application. The Bitcoin car is for the people and supported by the people. A unique QR code on each of ECR’s cars enables the world’s first peer-to-car contribution model allowing anyone in the world to donate. Bitcoin has a fixed supply at 21 million with no more to ever be made and ECR is honored to represent Bitcoin on the No. 21.
ED CARPENTER, No. 20 SONAX Chevrolet, Qualified 4th: “I’m happy we were in the hunt and we have a car on the front row! Both of our cars were extremely close and that small gap between the two cars is a testament to ECR and the quality of cars that they build. It’s tough competition, whether it’s Honda versus Chevy or the two of us going against Scott Dixon and Colton Herta. We had all the power we needed to fight for the pole, they were just a little better than us today. There are so many great drivers in the series, it’s awesome to compete against them and we love the challenge. At the end of the day, we’re happy with where we’re starting the Indy 500. Rinus is the real deal, I’m proud of him. He’s a resilient kid, he learns and keeps getting better. He’s going to be tough to beat next Sunday, I’m as worried about him as anyone. But we’ll be in a great spot for the race, with my teammate in front of me, so we’ll tune up the car today and Carb Day and be ready for next Sunday.”
- Ed Carpenter made sure he earned himself a position in today’s Fast Nine Shootout. His four-lap average yesterday was 231.616 mph, landing him solidly in the 4th position. He was the fifth car to go out today, right after VeeKay. As the No. 20 and 21 crews looked on, Carpenter put up a four-lap average of 231.504. It would be the equivalent of .007 mph less than VeeKay, giving Carpenter the 4th starting position for his 18th Indianapolis 500.
- Carpenter is one of the most experienced drivers in the field, now in his 19th season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition. He is the only individual who handles both the responsibility of driving and owning his own team. The Indianapolis native solidified his status as a hometown favorite by winning the pole position in 2013 and 2014; in 2018, he became just the 10th driver to collect three or more Indy 500 poles in the century-plus history of the race. Two of his strongest finishes have come in recent years, including a runner-up finish after leading the most laps in 2018.
- With the No. 21 competing as the Bitcoin Chevrolet in the Indianapolis 500, the SONAX USA scheme campaigned by VeeKay in the first five races of the seasons has transferred over to Carpenter’s No. 20. 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.
CONOR DALY, No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Qualified 19th: “It was a good day for the team. Two cars in the Fast Nine, which is awesome for our teammates. After the discomfort that I had on Friday, we just missed it yesterday. I never lifted all day but we just didn’t have the team. That’s partially on me, but the team has given us a great car. It’s an incredible machine, really we have three incredible cars. Clearly we are the fastest Chevy team, so that feels good. We know we have a good racecar, so we will focus on that!”
- Conor Daly’s starting position was determined during yesterday’s qualifying session. The 29-year-old’s average speed over his first four laps was 230.427 mph, which had him 18th overall. A few hours later, he returned to the track in his No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet for a second attempt. Daly remained 18th, but was bumped down one position as drivers made runs in the final hours of the day. As positions 10-33 were locked in at the end of Saturday, he will start next Sunday’s 500-mile race from the 19th position.
- Daly is another hometown favorite as he was born and raised in nearby Noblesville, Ind. Daly is well-prepared for his 8th Indianapolis 500, having set Top 5 times while running in traffic in three of four practice sessions this week. In addition to stepping into ECR’s third entry for the Indianapolis 500, Daly drives ECR’s No. 20 in the road and street course events and raced Carlin’s No. 59 entry in the Texas Motor Speedway doubleheader earlier this month.
- 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. Daly and ECR work alongside the U.S. Air Force to inspire young adults, communicate the service’s mission and build awareness about career opportunities. Daly’s Indy 500 car design is inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen’s P-51 Mustang used during World War II. The iconic red tail and the red and yellow stripes on the nose of the aircraft are prominent on the cars. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, a precursor of the U.S. Air Force.