Daly Earns 12th-Place Result; Rinus VeeKay Eliminated By Suspension Damage

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 8, 2021) – Race Notes

  • The inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix was full of caution flags and full of challenges for Ed Carpenter Racing. Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay started near the rear of the field, but had their sights set on moving forward. Both did, but progress was continually halted by cautions. Daly ran top to bottom in today’s field, eventually managing a solid 12th-place finish. VeeKay was scored in 24th after contact damaged the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet.
  • Yesterday’s qualifying was difficult for the ECR duo. Daly had not had an opportunity to turn any laps on the red Firestone Firehawks prior to qualifying and had to learn their characteristics on the fly. He qualified 20th with his teammate one row behind him. VeeKay brushed the wall on his run, leaving him with only one lap at speed on the red tires. That lap had him 22nd on today’s starting grid. 
  • The first caution of the day flew on the first lap, which set the tone for the 80-lap event. Daly gained one position on Lap 1, but dropped back several on the ensuing restart. Daly saw two cars make contact in front of him, including one get airborne, so he lifted in anticipation of a caution. Both cars continued so the yellow flag was late to fly, dropping Daly back. He brought the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet in for his first pit stop on Lap 17; with the number of yellow and red flags, he did not have to stop again until Lap 52. The strategy moved him as high as 3rd. With the late-race stop, Daly was comfortably able to finish the race with plenty of fuel. As other competitors had to stop again and had problems, Daly moved up to the 12th position, where he finished.
  • VeeKay gained two positions before the first caution. When the second yellow was called later than anticipated, VeeKay was able to pick up another five spots. His luck would run out on Lap 20, when he came across a blocked track in Turn 11. With nowhere to go, the No. 21 made contact with the stopped cars and was then hit from behind. The SONAX crew was not able to begin repairs to the suspension until the ensuing red flag was lifted. VeeKay rejoined the race several laps down, but the car was too damaged. It locked up under braking and VeeKay slid into the Turn 1 tire barrier. After more assessment, the team elected to retire the car from the event. 
  • Ed Carpenter Racing will return to their Indianapolis-based race shop tomorrow as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES is in a string of three back-to-back races. Next Saturday, ECR will race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix. At the last race contested there in mid-May, Daly qualified in the Firestone Fast 6 but was eliminated in a Lap 1 incident. VeeKay led 33 laps and scored his first career victory. The August edition of the race will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 14. 
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Finished 12th: “I don’t really know how to describe today. I saw a car with its nose 30 feet in the air, then that car won the race and I’m not really sure how that happened! We were in the right position for a podium, it seemed like we were doing the right things but we got unlucky the way the strategy fell. To be in the Top 12 today was good, but it’s really tough to be that close to a podium.  We’ve done so much work to put ourselves in a good position and we just can’t quite get there. We were right there today, we will keep trying and hopefully get a podium soon!”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet, Finished 24th: “First, I just want to thank my guys for all of their hard work repairing the car. They did a great job and I wish I could have got a good result for them. I had a really good first 20 laps, I made it up to P12 from starting P22. I was on for a really good restart, but I got caught up with everyone stopping on track. The car was hit from the back and I got a lot of damage. We tried to get it repaired and back on track, but when I hit the brakes it locked up completely and I went right into the wall. That was the end for me, unfortunately. We are going back to Indy next week, which has been a good track for me and hopefully I can have some luck again!”