Conor Daly Fights Back In Closing Laps; Rinus VeeKay Gains 16 Positions on Lap 1
PORTLAND, Ore. (September 12, 2021) – Race Notes
- The Grand Prix of Portland threw many obstacles at Ed Carpenter Racing today, but teammates Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay persevered through the end of the event. Daly was on pace for a Top 10 finish this afternoon, but an issue with pit equipment on his final stop cost him several positions. Still, Daly battled back in the closing laps to finish 16th. VeeKay gained an astonishing 16 positions on the opening lap, but strategy would not fall his way the rest of the day and he would have to settle for 17th place.
- Both Daly and VeeKay were left unsatisfied following yesterday’s qualifications. Daly narrowly missed advancing to the second round and he lined up 16th on today’s starting grid. Additionally, VeeKay was forced to start 25th due to a grid penalty for an unapproved engine change.
- Daly had no choice but to short cut the course to avoid a multi-car incident in the first turn on Lap 1. Because of this, he had to drop to the back of the field. The No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet team took advantage of the situation, using it as an opportunity to make his first pit stop. Daly raced forward several times during the 110-lap event and was on pace for a Top 10 finish. A wheel gun malfunction during Daly’s third and final pit stop on Lap 77 only cost him mere seconds, but translated to several positions on track. He re-entered the race in 22nd, but charged forward in the closing laps. Daly would pick up 6 spots in the final 20 laps, ultimately earning a 16th-place finish.
- VeeKay completely avoided the opening lap melee and gained an astounding 16 positions. For the Lap 11 restart, he took the green flag from the 9th position. The No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet crew selected three-stop strategy, pitting on Laps 20, 43 and 78. Leaning on information gained in a strong final practice session, VeeKay took black Firestone Firehawks on his last pit stop. With the latter part of the race marred by cautions, wear on the red Firehawks was minimal and they became the preferred compound at the end of the event. On the black tires, VeeKay slipped back several positions in the closing laps and had to settle for a 17th place finish.
- The West Coast swing to close out the 2021 season continues next weekend with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. VeeKay will participate in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca while Daly will compete in his second. Both will be driving for Ed Carpenter Racing for the first time at the 2.238-mile road course as the 2020 event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coverage of the 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will begin on Sunday, September 19 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.
|CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Finished 16th: |
“We had to miss a bunch of cars all over the place in Turn 1 and do some avoiding. That put us back in the field after the re-order, but we had some good pace all race long. We were fighting with some really good guys and were definitely on pace for a Top 10 finish. We had an issue on the last pit stop, which was a shame. Once we were able to fight back, we passed a lot of cars and worked our way up. We knew we were faster than where we ended up in qualifying and we were on pace to have a great race today.”
|RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet, Finished 17th: |
“We had to pass a lot of cars today. I had a good start, from P25 to P9. I made up a lot of spots there! Unfortunately, we really couldn’t get the strategy to work. Every time we did something, a yellow would come and undo it. P17 is nothing to write home about, but I am pretty happy with my own execution today. Everything I did is exactly what I should have done. I am happy about that, but lots to work on before Laguna. Full send there!”