Conor Daly Rebounds From Yesterday’s Incident; Rinus VeeKay Brushes The Wall in Qualifying

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 7, 2021) – Qualifying Notes

  • The newest track to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule has presented a unique set of challenges to drivers. Ed Carpenter Racing’s duo of Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay have worked hard to acquaint themselves with the downtown Nashville circuit and have continually improved throughout the weekend. At the conclusion of this afternoon’s qualifying, Daly will start 20th in the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix while VeeKay will be one row behind in 22nd. 
  • The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix is the first new street course event added to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar since 2011. It is staged on a temporary 2.17-mile grand prix circuit in downtown Nashville and around Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans. It is also one of the one only events in motorsports to cross over a body of water as the field will race across Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge, which spans the Cumberland River.
  • Drivers took to the track for the first time yesterday afternoon for the opening practice session. Street circuit are notoriously bumpy and Daly was caught out by one, losing control of the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet. Fortunately, damage was minimal and was quickly repaired. In this morning’s second practice session, VeeKay set the 9th-fastest lap of the weekend to that point.
  • As the field is split in half for qualifying, Daly and VeeKay were both assigned to Group 2. Anticipating tricky conditions and potential red flags, Daly selected a set of sticker red Firestone Firehawks to ensure he was able to set a fast lap. He had enough time to stop for a second set, setting a quick lap of 1:15.6685. VeeKay started on new black Firehawks, completing two laps before a switch to reds. On his second lap on the red tires, he brushed the wall. His only lap at speed on the reds was 1:15.7029.  
  • VeeKay is aiming to continue a breakout sophomore season with ECR. The driver of the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet earned six Top 10 finishes in the first seven races of the year, including his first career victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in mid-May. One week later, the 20-year-old became the youngest front row starter in Indianapolis 500 history as he qualified 3rd. At the most recent street course event, the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, VeeKay returned to the podium with a second-place finish in Race 1. Despite missing the Road America round while recovering from surgery to repair a fractured clavicle, VeeKay remains eighth in the overall championship standings.
  • Daly is also in his second season with ECR. The No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet is split between Daly for the road and street course events and team owner Ed Carpenter for the ovals. Daly transitioned to the No. 47 for the Indianapolis 500 and was consistently one of the fastest cars during the Month of May, turning Top 5 lap times in five of six practice sessions. On Lap 50 of 200, Daly took the lead of the 500-mile race for the first time in his career. He would go on to lead 40 laps, the most of all drivers. Earlier in the month, Daly made his first Firestone Fast 6 appearance in qualifying at the IMS road course.
  • Final practice for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix will take place tomorrow at noon, giving Daly and VeeKay a half an hour to perfect their Chevrolet-powered NTT INDYCAR SERIES cars. Tomorrow’s 80-lap race will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network with coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m. CT (5:30 p.m. ET).
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Qualified 20th: “As a team, we had a great rebound from my making a mistake and putting it in the wall yesterday. When we put the reds on for qualifying, that was the first time we got a clean lap in on them. It was also the first time we got into the 15s and that was almost two seconds quicker than we had gone all weekend. We’ve made great progress so far, but we will have to work our way forward tomorrow and this place is challenging. We are looking forward to it!”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet, Qualified 22nd: “Always searching for the limit, today I went over it and brushed the wall. I’ll have to start P22, so overtaking it is!”