(SALINAS, Calif.) September 19, 2021 – Race Preview
- Ed Carpenter Racing is ready to head down the California coast for next weekend’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the finale of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay will compete in the iconic event as the third in a string of three back-to-back events to close the season. Daly will be competing in his fourth Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach next Sunday while VeeKay will race in the streets of Long Beach for the first time in his career.
- Today, Daly and VeeKay competed in the penultimate round of the season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Daly ran a clean race, fighting hard throughout the duration of the 95-lap Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey and finishing 16th. VeeKay struggled with grip on his opening set of black Firestone Firehawks and had to switch from a three-stop strategy to a four-stop strategy. In the closing laps of the race, he made up four positions to finish 18th.
- In just five days, VeeKay will take to the streets of Long Beach for the first time. The Dutch driver reached the NTT INDYCAR SERIES after a successful three-year ascent of the Road to Indy ladder and has been with Ed Carpenter Racing for two seasons. However, the 1.968-mile Long Beach street circuit is no longer a part of the Road to Indy schedule. With the 2020 edition of the Acura Grand Prix cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, next weekend’s race will be VeeKay’s first-ever in the streets of Long Beach.
- Though Daly has not competed on the scenic street circuit in downtown Long Beach for several years, he will return to Southern California with experience. In 2015, Daly received a last-minute call to fill in as a replacement driver in the marquee NTT INDYCAR SERIES event. Two more starts followed as part of his full-time seasons in 2016 and 2017. Daly, who also competed in the Road to Indy, won the 2011 Indy Lights event in the streets of Long Beach.
- 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 eight days ago during the Grand Prix of Portland.
- Daly’s 2021 season mirrors that of 2020, where he has competed full-time for two different teams. Daly has driven ECR’s No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet on the road and street course events, ECR’s No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet for the Indianapolis 500 and Carlin’s No. 59 for the remaining ovals. Daly 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 his hometown 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.
- Only three days of on-track activity remain on the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule. Daly and VeeKay will have one practice session on Friday, September 24 and one on Saturday, September 25. Qualifying will follow on Saturday afternoon, then a warm-up session in the morning on Sunday. All sessions will be streamed live on Peacock Premium. The 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET) on Sunday, September 26.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet: “Today was quite an adventure. We had some decent pace moving through the field a little bit. Now, I am really excited for Long Beach, I love Long Beach! I’ve won there in Indy Lights and I just really enjoy driving that track. Street racing is fun, so it’s going to be great to close out the season with a fun race!”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet: “I was really struggling on the black tires at the start today, but the reds felt really good and I could put good lap times in. The four-stop strategy was good was well, but we had a miscommunication and I did an unnecessary drive through. It was unfortunate, but now we can look forward to Long Beach! I really want to end the year on a high note, that would be great for confidence heading into the offseason. Hopefully, we can put in a strong result there!”