West Coast Swing Continues for Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay With the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey
(INDIANAPOLIS) September 15, 2021 – Race Preview
- The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will continue its West Coast swing to end the 2021 season with this weekend’s visit to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay will be making a long-awaited return to the famous circuit where both have had great success. Though the pair are in their second seasons with Ed Carpenter Racing, it will be their first trip to the 2.238-mile road course with the team. Last year, the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey was one of several races that had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Daly will be competing in his second NTT INDYCAR SERIES event at Laguna Seca while it will be VeeKay’s first.
- The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey is the second in a string of three back-to-back race weekends as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES travels down the West Coast. Last Sunday, Daly and VeeKay raced in the Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway. Daly was on pace for a Top 10 finish, 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 was forced to start 25th following a grid penalty for an unapproved engine change, but gained an astonishing 16 positions on the opening lap. Unfortunately, strategy would not fall his way the rest of the day and he would have to settle for 17th place.
- Daly and VeeKay are no strangers to success at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Both swept their respective doubleheader weekends in 2019, the last time they competed there. Daly won both races in Lamborghini Super Trofeo and VeeKay captured victory in both Indy Lights races. One week after the Super Trofeo event, Daly competed in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES event at Laguna Seca. It was the first race for Daly and the U.S. Air Force outside of the Indianapolis 500. From there, the partnership grew to include all of the road and street course races and the Indianapolis 500 for ECR the next two seasons.
- Daly entered the West Coast swing coming off a string of solid finishes. His 2021 season mirrors that of 2020, where he competes in the road and street course events in ECR’s No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet and in Carlin’s No. 59 for the ovals outside of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Daly transitioned to ECR’s 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.
- VeeKay’s sophomore NTT INDYCAR SERIES season was off to a strong start as he 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 then 20-year-old became the youngest front row starter in Indianapolis 500 history as he qualified 3rd. VeeKay added a podium finish on a street course to his list of accomplishments with a second-place finish in Race 1 of Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. The driver of the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet turned 21 last Saturday.
- The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be a three-day event, beginning with practice on the afternoon of Friday, September 17. Saturday, September 18 will feature a second practice session and qualifying. Race day will kick off with a half-hour warm up-session in the morning. All on-track activity prior to the race will be streamed live on NBC’s Peacock Premium. The 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET) on Sunday, September 19.
|CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet: “I have always enjoyed driving at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca! Racing an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car at Laguna Seca is obviously very special, it is such a classic driver’s track. Ed Carpenter Racing has done a great job recently in giving me a very competitive car, we’ve been right there in most of the last few races. We want to keep this positive momentum alive and execute well in Laguna Seca. Hopefully we nail every aspect of the race and come home with a good finish!”|
|RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet: “I have never not won at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, so that’s a pretty good stat! We had a very valuable test there in the pre-season and we have found some very good setups throughout the year that will definitely help us there. I really like the track and how there are plenty of opportunities to pass there. It’s definitely going to be hard work, but hopefully we can get back to having awesome races!”|