Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly Battle Adversity in St. Pete; Fight Forward to Finish Firestone Grand Prix
(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) October 25, 2020 – Race Notes
When the checkered flag flew after 100 laps through the downtown streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., so too ended the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Ed Carpenter Racing drivers Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly both sustained contact to their Chevrolet-powered Indy cars today, but were able to soldier on following repairs and finish the event. VeeKay closed out his rookie campaign with a 15th place finish while Daly’s first season with ECR ended with 17th place.
VeeKay qualified 9th for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, advancing to the second round of qualifications in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES street course race. A call to pit early vaulted him up to the 5th position, but it was a strategy which depended on the race staying green. VeeKay was caught out by two cautions in a row and was mired mid-pack after his second stop. When Scott McLauglin spun to the inside of the track in Turn 1, VeeKay had nowhere to go and damaged his front wing as he made contact with the spinning car. However, he was able to continue in the No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet after repairs. As multiple cars dropped out in the closing laps and the remainder of VeeKay’s race was clean, he gained several positions and would finish 15th.
Daly started 14th today, narrowly missing out on advancing to the second round of qualifications himself. He also elected to utilize a three-stop strategy which needed green-flag conditions. He was caught out by the same yellow as VeeKay and had to pit ahead of schedule. During the second caution, he came around a corner to find the entire field slowed ahead of him. On cold tires, the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet slid and made contact. A new front wing and suspension pieces were required, but Daly was also able to continue on without further issue. He finished 17th in the Firestone Grand Prix, also collecting a handful of positions as other competitors had issues.
Despite today’s frustrations, VeeKay was awarded the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year title by merely taking the green flag this afternoon. Earlier this morning, it was announced that the 20-year-old will remain with Ed Carpenter Racing next season. The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will open in the same location the 2020 season closed, also with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The 2021 edition will take place on March 7, 2021.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Finished 17th: “I am definitely guilty of making a big mistake under yellow. Rinus came out of the pits quite quick right in front of us and everyone just stopped all of a sudden around the next corner. When the tires were cold, they were like ice. As soon as they locked up, I had nowhere to go. The U.S. Air Force Chevrolet was really fast, which was good. We made some great progress on the race set up. Even after the contact, the car was still fast so that was really encouraging.”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet, Finished 15tha: “I am officially Rookie of the Year! I am very happy with that. Everything we didn’t want to have happen in the race happened, though. We were super quick, but the first yellow kind of screwed us. I was in the pack after that. Scott McLaughlin spun to the inside and I was there, I couldn’t go anywhere. After that, it was just about bringing the car home without and damage and getting the points. I think another podium was a possibility, we had such a fast car! We have to wait a few months until we come back, but we’ll give it another shot! I am looking forward to being back – not as a rookie!”
RINUS VEEKAY TO CONTINUE WITH ED CARPENTER RACING FOR 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES SEASON
Young Dutch Talent Will Remain Driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet After Breakout Rookie Campaign
(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) October 25, 2020 – Ed Carpenter Racing announced today that Rinus VeeKay will remain the driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. VeeKay has spent his first year in the series as the full-time driver for the Indianapolis-based team and will continue in that role next season. When VeeKay takes the green flag in the final race of the year today, his debut season with ECR will culminate with the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year title.
“I am very happy to be back with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2021!” proclaimed VeeKay. “I feel like an entirely different driver than I was at the beginning of the year. The team has been so patient with me and given me every opportunity to learn as much as possible. I have a great group of guys around me and I can’t wait to have that same amazing support next year.”
The presumptive Rookie of the Year began racing in the United States just four years ago. Born in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, Rinus van Kalmthout began karting in 2009 at the age of 8. With sights set firmly on the pinnacle of North American open wheel racing, he transitioned to the Road to Indy in 2017 and launched his U.S. career driving as Rinus VeeKay. His rapid ascent through the RTI ranks included second place in the 2017 USF2000 standings, the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 title and a runner-up finish in the 2019 Indy Lights championship. Now 20 years old, VeeKay will begin his second NTT INDYCAR SERIES season in 2021.
ECR team owner Ed Carpenter watched VeeKay’s progression through in the Road to Indy for two seasons and selected the rookie for his team after two successful tests in late 2019. “The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES is one that we will never forget. With all the challenges that have been presented, limited track time and schedule changes, we have seen Rinus progress rapidly from the start of the season until now,” stated Carpenter. “It is clear to us that he has all of the tools to be a winner at this level and we look forward to climbing the podium together!”
VeeKay’s first year of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition has been full of milestones. In only his second race, the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, he earned his first Top 5 finish. By starting 4th in the Indianapolis 500, he recorded the best qualifying result by a teenager in Indianapolis 500 history. The only Chevrolet-powered driver in the Fast Nine Shootout was also the fastest rookie in the field. The following week, he recorded his highest oval finish of the year at WWT Raceway with a 4th place. When VeeKay returned to the IMS road course for the Harvest GP, he won his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position, led the first laps of his Indy car career and earned his first podium finish. VeeKay will be Chevrolet’s first Rookie of the Year since 1992.
“We have had amazing results and great achievements this year. There is even more possible next year when we get back to a normal schedule! I am really looking forward to doubling my knowledge and not being a rookie! However, there will still be a few new tracks for me with the street courses. I will give it my all and make next season as good as possible!” said VeeKay. He continued, “I appreciate so much the trust Ed Carpenter, Tony George and Stuart Reed have in me and believing in what I can do. It’s not an easy decision to put someone in a full-time car and I am very happy with the chance they have given me. SONAX, Autogeek, Direct Supply and the entire team has given me their all for the whole season!” VeeKay is also grateful for the support of his home country. “I want to thank my personal sponsors Jumbo, La Place, KNAF TeamNL and Basic-Fit; my family; and everyone back home in the Netherlands cheering for me!”
Since its inception in 2012, ECR has raced exclusively in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and recently entered the eSports arena. The team has shown versatility by earning seven wins on each style of track the series competes on – street and road courses, short ovals and speedways. In 2020 alone, the team’s Top 5 finishes have come on a superspeedway, a short oval and a road course. ECR boasts 32 Top 5s to date, 21 of which have been podiums. An ECR Chevrolet qualified on the front row of six Indianapolis 500s, including three pole positions by Carpenter (2013, 2014 and 2018).
The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will see ECR continue to compete with two full-time entries, the No. 20 and No. 21. While the No. 21 will feature VeeKay for the full season, Carpenter will continue as oval driver of the No. 20 in his 19th season of Indy car competition. VeeKay’s first season will end in the same location that his second season begins. While the 2020 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET today, the 2021 season will open in the Streets of St. Petersburg on March 7, 2021.
Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay Return to Florida for the Season-Finale Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
INDIANAPOLIS (October 20, 2020) – Race Preview
Only one race remains on the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar. Originally scheduled to be the season-opening event, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will now be the season finale. In March, Ed Carpenter Racing had made the trip to Florida before the season was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This weekend, drivers Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay will return to finish out their 2020 campaigns through the downtown city street course.
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has become the only street circuit the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will compete on this season as the other events were put on hold until 2021. Not only are Daly and VeeKay familiar with the 1.8-mile, 14-turn layout, both have won races in the streets of St. Petersburg. VeeKay competed in six Road to Indy races in St. Pete, scoring five podiums and three wins. Daly won from the pole in the 2010 Indy Pro 2000 event, his very first Road to Indy start. He has competed in two previous Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg events, leading the race as a rookie in 2016.
VeeKay’s debut NTT INDYCAR SERIES campaign has been full of milestones. In only his second race, the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, he earned his first Top 5 finish. By starting 4th in the Indianapolis 500, he recorded the best qualifying result by a teenager in Indianapolis 500 history. The only Chevrolet-powered driver in the Fast Nine Shootout was also the fastest rookie in the field. The next week, he recorded his highest oval finish of the year at WWT Raceway with a 4th place. When VeeKay returned to the IMS road course as a 20-year-old for the Harvest GP, he won his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position, led the first laps of his Indy car career and earned his first podium finish. The Dutchman will clinch the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year title by taking the green flag for Sunday’s race.
Daly returned to full-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition in 2020, splitting his time between Ed Carpenter Racing and Carlin. Daly will have competed for ECR in the eight road and street course events and the Indianapolis 500. At IMS, he turned the second-fastest practice lap of the month at 232.337 mph. His top qualifying with ECR came last month at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course when he started 4th. During the five other oval races when team owner Ed Carpenter was behind the wheel of the No. 20, Daly drove for Carlin. The 28-year-old earned four Top 10 finishes and won first career pole position at Iowa Speedway.
VeeKay’s No. 21 will finish out the season in the colors of both Autogeek.com and SONAX USA. This year will be the third in a row that Florida-based Autogeek.com has been featured on the No. 21 in their home race. Over the last 15 years, the car care superstore has risen to become one of the most reputable and trusted sources for automotive detailing products and accessories. As one of the United States’ largest distributors of European-made car care products, Autogeek.com was chosen by SONAX USA to be one of a few select U.S. retailers. Made in Germany, SONAX is a market leader in car care products, offering a highly competitive and extensive range of products for the cleaning and care of vehicles.
Daly has represented the U.S. Air Force for last three years. Historical U.S. Air Force components were woven together to create the No. 20’s striking livery for the road and street course events. The car salutes the A-10 Thunderbolt, the P-40 Warhawk, the P-51 Mustang and the Air Force Academy. At the Indianapolis 500, when Carpenter drove the No. 20 U.S. Space Force Chevrolet, Daly shifted over to the team’s third entry. The No. 47 was selected for Daly’s “500” car with double significance. The U.S. Air Force was officially founded on September 18, 1947 and on October 14, 1947, the Bell X-1 became the first crewed aircraft to exceed the speed of sound. Daly’s car was painted bright orange as a tribute to the experimental U.S. Air Force rocket plane.
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be a two-day event with limited spectator access as approved by the City of St. Petersburg under specific COVID-19 protocols. Daly and VeeKay will have one practice session late Saturday morning, October 24, before qualifying in the afternoon. Both will be streamed live on NBC Sports Gold, along with Sunday morning’s warm-up session. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on NBC, beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET on October 25. The green flag will fly for the 2020 season finale at 2:32 p.m. ET.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet: “It’s pretty hard to believe my first street course with Ed Carpenter Racing will be in October! It has been a decade since I last won in St. Pete in the Indy Pro 2000 championship, which is wild to think about. Love the track, love the city, love the event. We obviously want to finish strong for the U.S. Air Force, Chevrolet and all of the incredible people that have worked so hard for us all year long. I’m very excited to get down there and get going!”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet: “It will be so nice to come back to St. Petersburg! We are finally returning after being there earlier this year, but we were not able to race. Hopefully, I can secure my Rookie of the Year title, it will be a very nice achievement! I am really looking forward to the race. First street course race of the season as the last race, that’s very cool! I’ve always had good races in St. Pete in the Road to Indy and I cannot wait to hustle around there with an Indy car!”
Fuel Saving Race Limits Opportunities for Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly at IMS
(INDIANAPOLIS) October 3, 2020 – Race 2 Notes A different distance for the second race of the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR created an entirely different set of circumstances for Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly. After VeeKay earned his first podium finish in yesterday’s 85-lap Race 1 and Daly was able to drive up through the field, the 75-lap Race 2 was a battle of fuel savings. This afternoon, VeeKay finished 17th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway while Daly was 20th.
Qualifying for Race 2 was held this morning. The field was split into two groups with VeeKay’s group out first. The Race 1 pole sitter was on pace for another strong qualifying performance when he dropped a wheel off for a split second, costing him his quick lap time. Next out was Daly, who struggled to get speed out of the car throughout his session. When the field was set, VeeKay was in the 14th starting position and Daly would roll off 23rd.
The shorter distance of Race 2 meant a day of fuel saving for the ECR drivers in order to complete the race in only two pit stops. As VeeKay had used three sets of red Firestone Firehawks in Race 1, he had to do two stints of Race 2 on blacks, including the start. One car on red tires was able to get around VeeKay in the opening laps and he settled into the 15th position. Meanwhile, Daly was the victim of a brief electrical issue on the second lap. Though it quickly resolved itself, Daly fell back to 25th and was the last car running.
Just like he had to do yesterday after being driven off-track in the first lap, Daly was forced charge through the field. Despite also starting the race on black Firehawks, he was up to 19th by his first pit stop on Lap 24. Once the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet was back out on sticker red tires, Daly really began to march forward. In just 10 more laps, he was up 14th. VeeKay made his first pit stop one lap after Daly’s. He cycled out in 17th, where the 20-year-old rookie would stay for the entirety of his second stint.
Daly received a set of scuffed reds on his final pit stop on Lap 49. They did not perform as well as his previous sticker set and he was unable to hold off the charge from a few competitors. More were able to get by as Daly was blocked by a lapped car, causing him slip back to his finishing position of 20th.
VeeKay was awarded his only set of red tires on his final stint. On Lap 50, the No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet received scuffed reds. Though he finally had the preferred tires, he was still tasked with saving fuel and was unable to attack. The only position VeeKay gained following his last pit stop was Daly and VeeKay finished 17th.
Only one race remains on the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar. Originally scheduled to be the season-opening event, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will now be the season finale. Earlier this week, plans were approved to operate the event with 20,000 spectators under specific health and safety protocols. Daly and VeeKay’s final race of the year will take place on Sunday, October 25, 2020.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Finished 20th: “As made a move into Turn 1 on Lap 2, we had a glitch and lost the throttle for a couple of seconds. I had to fall back to last, but honestly from then on, we had really good pace. Our second stint on new reds was great, we got up to 14th from dead last. We were making great progress but couldn’t maintain the speed on the last set of used reds. The 41 car blocked us pretty aggressively and was not very sportsmanlike, which was a shame. We just had to hang on to the finish.”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet, Finished 17th: “Way different race than yesterday! I wish there had been some kind of yellow so we could have done something! Two stints on blacks, that was tough. We were not quick on the blacks yesterday and that did not change for today. The last stint on reds was pretty okay, we just had some unfortunate things happen today. I wasn’t completely happy with the handling of the car, but we didn’t get the set up quite right – it happens! Everyone gave 100%, including me, and that just wasn’t enough today. Let’s head to St. Pete and send it!”
Conor Daly Charges Up Through the Field After Being Run Off-Track on Lap 1
(INDIANAPOLIS) October 2, 2020 – Race 1 Notes In the past 24 hours, Rinus VeeKay won his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position, led the first laps of his Indy car career and earned his first podium finish. In Race 1 of the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR, the young Dutchman finished 3rd. Teammate Conor Daly was driven off-course twice on the opening lap, but remained resilient and battled back up to a 12th place result.
VeeKay was the pole sitter for the first event of the Harvest GP doubleheader. The rookie earned his first NTT P1 Award yesterday for only his 12th NTT INDYCAR SERIES start. Daly had his qualifying session cut short by a red flag and was never able to turn a lap on Firestone’s red Firehawk tires. Daly, a hometown favorite at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, had to start Race 1 from the 14th position.
The opening lap was eventful for both Ed Carpenter Racing drivers. VeeKay and Colton Herta swapped the lead back and forth several times on Lap 1 before VeeKay secured the position. Daly was off to a flying start, but in the second half of Lap 1, he was driven off-track two times by two different drivers. He dropped all the way back to the 21st position. After the opening lap melee, Daly was eager to get the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet outfitted with red Firehawks and continue his charge forward. He made a stop on Lap 10 was running higher than his starting position 20 laps later.
VeeKay paced the field until his first pit stop. The 15 laps he led were the first of his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career. He brought the No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet in on Lap 17 for black Firehawks and another spirited battle with Herta ensued. VeeKay would eventually settle into the third position, behind Herta and eventual race winner Josef Newgarden. On Lap 38, VeeKay stopped again for scuffed reds and retained the third position.
A second pit stop followed on Lap 35 for Daly and he cycled out in 13th position. As the caution-free race wore on, the field became more spread out around the 2.439-mile course. Passing opportunities for Daly were rare and he remained 13th. With 16 laps to go, Marco Andretti dropped out of the race, giving Daly the 12th spot. Despite dropping to the back of the field in the first lap of the race, Daly still managed to finish higher than his starting position.
VeeKay made his final pit stop on Lap 61. He selected red tires to finish out the race and was 5th following the last round of stops. Coming to the line on Lap 69, Will Power slid high, allowing VeeKay and Alexander Rossi to get by. Rossi drafted by VeeKay, putting VeeKay back to 5th once again. VeeKay closed the gap to positions 2-4 and was ready to pounce. When Felix Rosenqvist made a small error, VeeKay made the pass for the 4th position. Using his red tires to his advantage, VeeKay swung around Herta with less than four laps to go. The move would secure him 3rd place and a spot in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES podium celebration. VeeKay’s podium finish is the 21st for Ed Carpenter Racing and first since Carpenter’s second place finish last season at WWT Raceway. VeeKay now has finishes of 6th (WWT Raceway), 5th (IMS road course), 4th (WWT Raceway) and 3rd (IMS road course). VeeKay, who turned 20 three weeks ago, is eligible for the 2020 Rookie of the Year title. He currently leads the standings with two races left this year.
As the INDYCAR Harvest GP is a doubleheader event, Daly and VeeKay will race another full-distance, points-paying race tomorrow, October 3. They will qualify at 10:20 a.m. ET, the only on-track activity before the Race 2. The second installment of the Harvest GP will be broadcast live on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET with the green flag falling one minute later.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Finished 12th: “We had a great start, but sadly got driven off by two other competitors in the second half of Lap 1. The 59 car and the 18 car decided they didn’t want to leave a lane for me, even though I gave them plenty of room. Being sent off the track twice was a shame and really put us behind, but we had a great car and great pace. We started passing cars as soon as we got back going, which was nice. We tried to strategize our way forward, our pace was really good on reds there at the end. We definitely have improved our car since the last time we were here. We just need to be able to get a fair qualifying session in tomorrow and try to start up front like our teammate – then go for it!”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet, Finished 3rd: “Well, pretty good weekend so far! First pole yesterday, first podium today! It definitely wasn’t easy, but I’m very happy with a podium finish! I struggled on the blacks, but I had a great last 15 laps on the reds! I wish I could have done a little bit better, but a podium is a podium. Tomorrow is another day, we will have one less set of reds, but it’s 10 laps shorter of a race. Tonight, I’m happy!”
VeeKay Earns Ed Carpenter Racing’s First Road Course Pole; Conor Daly Starting From Row 7
(INDIANAPOLIS) October 1, 2020 – Race 1 Qualifying Notes Ed Carpenter Racing’s rookie Rinus VeeKay will lead the field to the green flag in tomorrow’s Race 1 of the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR. VeeKay earned the NTT P1 Award for his first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position tonight at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, setting the fastest lap of all 25 competitors. Teammate Conor Daly’s qualifying run was cut short when a red flag closed the track, saddling him with the 14th starting position.
Today’s on-track activity at IMS kicked off at 2:25 p.m. ET with a 75-minute practice session. Daly set his fast lap only five circuits in at 123.415 mph, then focused on improving the handling of the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet. VeeKay’s quick lap of 123.974 mph was on the 24th of 27 laps he turned.
Qualifying would see the field split into two groups based on practice times. Each group would receive 14 minutes of track time with at least five minutes of green-flag running. Daly was assigned to Group 1 and was out first when qualifying began at 6:25 p.m. ET. After four laps on Firestone’s primary black Firehawk tires, Daly sat 7th at 123.777 mph. He and the rest of his group had just stopped for a switch to red Firehawks when a red flag flew. As the five minutes of guaranteed green time had been satisfied, Daly did not have a chance to go out and improve his speed. He will start 14th in Race 1.
Group 2 was out next for their 14-minute session, including VeeKay. Once the No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet was outfitted with red Firehawks, the 20-year-old shot to the top of the scoring sheet. His lap of 125.992 mph put him in the first position and the team anxiously watched as rest of the drivers in Group 1 set their fast laps. When the checkered flag waved, the No. 21 sat atop the pylon, awarding VeeKay the NTT P1 Award for Race 1 of the Harvest GP.
It is VeeKay’s first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position, earned in just his 12th start. Prior to today, his best qualifying effort was also at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as he started 4th in the 2020 Indianapolis 500. Of Ed Carpenter Racing’s five NTT P1 Awards, four have come at IMS as team owner Ed Carpenter is a three-time Indy 500 pole sitter. This is also the first pole for ECR on a road course in the team’s history. Race 1 of the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR is set for tomorrow, October 2, 2020. Live coverage of the 85-lap race on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course starts at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet: “We made some great improvements from practice to qualifying. The U.S. Air Force Chevy was so much better! It was a shame we weren’t able to run on red tires. Our time on black tires was actually better than our teammate’s, which is really encouraging because Rinus (VeeKay) has always been strong on the black tires. We had so much of a time gain on the reds when we were here on July 4th, we were really wanted to see what we had this time. It is what it is though, we know we have a good car! We made some great improvements, tomorrow should be a lot of fun and we’ll go to the front!”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet: “What a great qualifying! A pole position, I can check that off my list! The only thing that should follow is a podium or a win, I would like to end the season with at least one of those too! The SONAX car was fine on black tires, but it really came alive on the reds. We made a little wing adjustment and had a great lap. We worked hard in the hours between practice and qualifying, then the car was amazing! I am very happy! Thank you to all of my guys, SONAX, Autogeek and Chevrolet!”
Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay Set To Take On INDYCAR Harvest GP Doubleheader On The IMS Road Course
(INDIANAPOLIS) September 29, 2020 – Race Preview
This weekend, Ed Carpenter Racing will move operations from its race shop at 71st Street and Georgetown Road to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 16th and Georgetown. Back-to-back races on the IMS road course await the Indianapolis-based team on Friday and Saturday. Conor Daly, born and raised in nearby Noblesville, is a hometown favorite at The Racing Capital of the World. Rinus VeeKay will continue his fight for the Rookie of the Year title with only three races remaining in the 2020 season.
The INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix presented by GMR will be the first time race fans will be welcomed into IMS in 2020. In accordance with the Marion County Department of Public Health, attendance will be capped at 10,000 fans in the grandstands per day. A new event for 2020, the Harvest GP pays tribute to the 1916 Harvest Classic. Held on September 9, 1916, the Harvest Classic was created to help IMS stay afloat during World War I and featured three races at distances of 20, 50 and 100 miles. The 2020 Harvest GP will feature two races of 85 laps and 75 laps on the 2.439-mile circuit.
The Harvest GP doubleheader will mark the third and fourth NTT INDYCAR SERIES races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. In addition to the Indianapolis 500, held on the oval in August, the INDYCAR Grand Prix took place on the 4th of July on the road course. The INDYCAR GP was Daly’s first race with ECR. He advanced to the second round of qualifications and finished 12th. VeeKay, who was only able to get in one lap at speed during qualifying, was left with the 18th starting position. He was the first car to pit, a move that paid dividends and allowed him to race his way through the field. In only his second start, VeeKay would record his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES Top 5 finish.
ECR most recently competed at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in mid-September. There, Daly bettered his INDYCAR Grand Prix qualifying effort and locked in his best road course starting position of the season. Starting 4th, the 28-year-old narrowly missed out on a Top 10 finish as he had to coast home on the final lap, short on fuel. Daly is competing in the full NTT INDYCAR SERIES season this year, driving the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet for ECR in the road and street course events. During the ovals races when team owner Ed Carpenter was behind the wheel, Daly drove for Carlin. Daly earned his first career pole position at Iowa earlier this year.
VeeKay, who turned 20 on September 11, currently leads the Rookie of the Year standings. His 5th place finish at IMS remains his highest road course result. VeeKay’s best finish of the year came one month ago at World Wide Technology Raceway oval in St. Louis. After finishing 6th in the first of the doubleheader events, the Dutchman finished 4th in the second. One week prior to securing his career-best finish, VeeKay started 4th in the Indianapolis 500. Driving the No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet, his qualifying effort was the highest of all Chevrolet-powered drivers and the best by a teenager in ‘500’ history.
The Harvest Grand Prix will be a three-day event as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES shares the weekend with Intercontinental GT Challenge and GT World Challenge America. Daly and VeeKay will take to the track on Thursday afternoon for a practice session at 2:25 p.m. ET, followed by qualifying for Race 1 at 6:20 p.m. ET. Friday will feature Race 1 of the Harvest GP, an 85-lap race beginning at 4 p.m. ET on USA Network. Daly and VeeKay will earn their starting positions for Race 2 on Saturday morning at 10:20 a.m. ET. Race 2 will follow at 2:30 p.m. ET with 75 laps broadcast live on NBC.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet: “We had a great qualifying performance last time we were at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. I am really excited about being back for the Harvest GP since we already have experience together as a team at this track. We can look back on what we learned in July, build on that and progress from there. Hopefully, we will qualify again very strong and have an even better race this time!”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet: “I am very excited to get going again after a few weeks off! The Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course was great for me earlier this year. Having two more races here makes me twice as happy! And fans this time for the Harvest Grand Prix will make it even better!”
Last Lap Pass Drops VeeKay to 11th; Conor Daly Runs Steady Race After Tough Qualifying, Finishes 16th
(LEXINGTON, Ohio) September 13, 2020 – Race 2 Notes
Ed Carpenter Racing drivers Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly finished exactly where they started in today’s Race 2 of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course doubleheader. VeeKay narrowly missed extending his streak of Top 10 finishes when a last-lap pass dropped him to 11th. Daly started and finished today’s Honda 200 in the 16th position.
Yesterday’s Race 1 of the doubleheader resulted in both VeeKay and Daly’s highest road course qualifying efforts of the season. VeeKay started 9th while Daly was up on the outside of the second row in 4th. Daly was running in the Top 10 until the final lap, when his car unexpectedly began to run out of fuel. Daly finished 13th while VeeKay brought home his third consecutive Top 10 with an 8th place.
It was a clean slate for today as Race 2 had it’s own qualifying session this morning. Heavy rains moved through the area and the track was still wet when qualifying began. The field was split into two groups and Daly was out first. A red flag flew just moments before he set his first quick lap that had him sitting third. The lap was invalidated and Daly had to start over. He was able to turn two laps at speed, narrowly missing a third lap by mere seconds. Many cars behind him did have time for an additional lap, dropping him down the order to 16th.
Multiple red flags caused delays to VeeKay’s group. The course had not remained green long enough for anyone to record a lap time and drivers were left with only three minutes and 36 seconds to set a quick time. VeeKay managed two laps, but the rain tires were so degraded by the second lap, he did not improve his speed. His fast lap would slot him into the 11th position on today’s starting grid.
The start of Race 2 was eventful with multiple cars off-course in the first few corners. Daly avoided the melee, but dropped to 19th. Nearly the entire field wound up on the same pit strategy when all but two cars stopped on Lap 15. Daly moved up as the two leaders made their stop, but settled back into his original starting position of 16th. His second pit stop on Lap 46 had him back in 18th, but again he cycled back into 16th. At the end of today’s 75-lap race, Daly brought home the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet in the same position it started in.
VeeKay too avoided the opening lap mayhem and gained two positions, moving his No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet up to 9th. Pit stops on Laps 15 and 46 had VeeKay firmly in the Top 10. A spin by Scott Dixon placed him on an alternate pit strategy and with tires that were 12 laps fresher than VeeKay’s, the championship leader made the pass on the Dutch rookie with only a few corners to go. VeeKay finished 11th, also the position he started today’s race.
Next up for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will be the Harvest Grand Prix, a new event for 2020 utilizing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. It too will be a doubleheader weekend with races taking place on both Friday, October 2 and Saturday, October 3. VeeKay and Daly have already completed one race at the IMS road course this year, which took place on the Fourth of July. Daly advanced to the second round of qualifying in that event and VeeKay earned his best road course finish and first career Top 5.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Finished 16th: “Today was tough in qualifying. We just didn’t get the right lap in at the right time and we just missed having another lap by a couple of seconds. Starting on the back foot, that’s hard. We took a gamble with the setup which was actually good for me to try. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time for everything that happened on track, it was a shame. However, there were some positives; yesterday, we qualified 4th which was really good. We are still learning together as a team, hopefully we can put what we learned here towards the Harvest Grand Prix.”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet, Finished 11th: “That was a very tough race! Maybe because of the rainy conditions this morning, the track was different. My car felt nothing like yesterday! I had to dodge some cars at the start and did not really move forward like other guys did. It wasn’t the greatest race, but P11 is not terrible! We’ve got the Indy road course again – and again! I had my best road course finish there so I am ready to go back!”
Conor Daly Qualifies 4th at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Narrowly Misses Top 10 Result
(LEXINGTON, Ohio) September 12, 2020 – Race 1 Notes Ed Carpenter Racing faced the first round of another NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Both Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly earned their best starting positions at a road course race this season. VeeKay, locked in a battle for Rookie of the Year honors, parlayed his qualifying result into his third Top 10 finish in a row. Daly narrowly missed out on his own Top 10 as he had to coast home on the final lap, short on fuel. VeeKay finished 8th in Race 1 of the Honda 200 and Daly finished 13th.
A 75-minute practice and a split-group qualifying session kicked off day one at Mid-Ohio. Daly finished the practice session 9th and VeeKay was 12th. The two were split into different groups for qualifying with VeeKay out first in Group 1. His best lap of 121.305 mph would land him 9th on the Race 1 starting grid, his career-best road course start. Daly followed in Group 2 and his lap of 121.550 mph placed him solidly in the 4th position. Like VeeKay, it was Daly’s best road course start of 2020 and matched ECR’s highest starting position this season.
Daly selected Firestone’s red alternate Firehawks for the start of Race 1 while VeeKay rolled off on primary black tires. Daly swapped positions with Ryan Hunter-Reay in the opening laps, then settled into 4th for the duration of his first stint. VeeKay was forced into a brief off-track excursion, but quickly re-entered the racing surface with no further issues. However, it did cost him several positions and the No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet slid back to 13th.
On the softer, faster red tire compound, Daly stayed out until Lap 20 when he made his first pit stop. As the cars that started on black tires cycled to the front, VeeKay moved up to 4th. The harder compound and longer-lasting black tires carried VeeKay seven laps more than Daly’s reds and VeeKay made his stop on Lap 27. After the 23-car field had made their first stops, Daly was 10th and VeeKay was 12th.
While Daly selected black tires for his second stint, VeeKay went with reds. VeeKay used the tires to his advantage, moving into the Top 10 with passes on Pato O’Ward and championship leader Scott Dixon. As the second and final round of pit stops began, Daly dove in on Lap 46. VeeKay stayed out for three more laps, ultimately cycling up to 2nd. Both selected sticker black Firehawks for their final stint.
The teammates ended up on track next to each other with VeeKay running 9th and Daly in 10th. With two laps to go, the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet unexpectedly began to run out of fuel. Daly backed off and was able to complete all 75 laps, but lost three positions at the end to finish 13th.
VeeKay wasn’t done moving forward in the closing laps. He gained another spot with a daring pass around the outside of Colton Herta, giving him the 8th position. VeeKay, who turned 20 yesterday, has finished in the Top 10 in the last three races. In addition to today’s 8th place, he also finished 6th and 4th in the World Wide Technology Raceway doubleheader two weeks ago.
Ed Carpenter Racing will return to the 2.258-mile road course first thing in the morning to finalize preparations for Race 2. There will not be a practice session tomorrow, but Daly and VeeKay will have another split-group qualifying session. Tomorrow’s 75-lap race will start at 1 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on NBC.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Finished 13th: “We had a really good start, got up to 3rd, which was nice! We struggled with the balance a little bit, but once we settled into 4th we held our position. It was tough to nail the times we needed on the out laps. Running out of fuel, these things happen sometimes. It was a shame because we would have been in the Top 10. Hopefully, we can work on some race pace for tomorrow and thankfully we have another day.”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet, Finished 8th: “Good race! I struggled a little bit at the beginning to get around slower traffic. Once I figured it out, it was really enjoyable. It definitely wasn’t a perfect race, but I’m happy with what we made of it and the speed we had. I think we can do even better in qualifying tomorrow, which will make the race easier!”
Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay Take on Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Doubleheader This Weekend
(INDIANAPOLIS) September 9, 2020 – Race Preview
After a swing of oval races, Ed Carpenter Racing returns to road course competition this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Rinus VeeKay will spend his birthday weekend continuing his fight for the Rookie of the Year title on the heels of his career-best finish. Coming off two Top 10 finishes of his own in the last doubleheader, Conor Daly will settle back into his U.S. Air Force Chevrolet with ECR.
When the NTT INDYCAR SERIES adjusted the 2020 schedule, the Mid-Ohio race weekend was changed to feature two full-length, points-paying races in less than 24 hours. Originally scheduled for August 8-9, the Honda Indy 200 was recently moved to September 12-13. Yesterday, the Ohio Department of Health granted a spectator variance due in part to the venue’s unique, large outdoor facility. Attendance will be limited to 6,000 spectators, and social distancing and masks will be required in accordance with state health guidelines.
VeeKay will climb back into the No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet after his most successful race weekend to date. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES last raced at World Wide Technology Raceway in St. Louis two weeks ago. After finishing 6th in the first of the doubleheader events, the Dutchman finished 4th in the second. One week prior to securing his career-best finish, VeeKay started 4th in the Indianapolis 500. His qualifying effort was the highest of all Chevrolet-powered drivers and the best by a teenager in ‘500’ history.
Mid-Ohio will mark the first road course event for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES since the Road America doubleheader. As such, it will be Daly’s first time back in the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet since mid-July. Daly steps into the No. 20 for the road and street course events while team owner Ed Carpenter drives in the oval races. As the COVID-19 pandemic has caused several NTT INDYCAR SERIES events to be cancelled or rescheduled, Carpenter competed in U.S. Air Force colors for the Iowa Speedway and WWT Raceway doubleheaders to make up for missed events. Daly drove for Carlin in those four events, earning his first career pole position at Iowa.
VeeKay, who will turn 20 on Friday, was signed as Ed Carpenter Racing’s full-time driver for 2020 on the heels of a successful test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last October. It was his second test with ECR and confirmed his compatibility with the team. Though this will be his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES weekend at Mid-Ohio, he is no stranger to doubleheaders at the 2.258-mile road course. Each Road to Indy event over the past three years featured two races in two days and VeeKay never finished off the podium. In 2018, he won both races on his way to his Indy Pro 2000 championship.
Daly has competed in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at Mid-Ohio three times in the past four years. He started 22nd in his 2016 debut but powered his way through the field. Daly finished 6th after leading 22 laps. He followed up that performance with another Top 10 finish in 2017. The 28-year-old will race for ECR in the final five races of the 2020 season, including the two this weekend at Mid-Ohio.
Saturday’s schedule will feature a 75-minute practice session, split qualifying groups and Race 1 of the Honda Indy 200. The race broadcast will begin at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network with the green flag scheduled for 5 p.m. ET. On Sunday, another split-group qualifying session will kick off the day. Race 2 will be broadcast on NBC, beginning at 1 p.m. ET, with the green flag five minutes later.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet: “I’ve always enjoyed going to Mid-Ohio, such a great track in the Midwest. I’ve had some reasonable success there, qualified decent and led some laps. It feels like forever since we’ve been to a road course so it will be nice to get back to that! Hopefully we’ll qualify up front, finish up front and get a lot of points.”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet: “I’m very excited we’re finally going to Mid-Ohio! We’ve been waiting a while to find out if it was going happen. I had a very important test with Ed Carpenter Racing there last October. Good memories already with the team! Also, I have good memories in the Road to Indy where I never finished off the podium and have two wins. I love the track and the atmosphere around it. The season is getting close to the end now. We’ve had a few good races and it’s important to keep this momentum going!”
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