After a nearly three-month delay, the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES will begin Saturday night with the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Ed Carpenter Racing’s full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet, 19-year-old Rinus VeeKay, will be making his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut. ECR team owner and oval driver Ed Carpenter, who made his first start at Texas in the fall of 2003, will be competing in his 19th race at the 1.5-mile oval. The 2020 season was set to begin on March 15 but has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now featuring 14 races, the revised schedule will begin with Saturday’s one-day event at Texas.
The Genesys 300 will mark the beginning of Carpenter’s 18th season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition. In his final race of 2019, Carpenter returned to the podium with a thrilling side-by-side finish at WWT Raceway – a mere .0399 seconds separating him from the first position. It was the 12th season in a row where Carpenter would lead at least one race. He continued to show his prowess at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year, starting on the front row of the Indianapolis 500 for the fifth time in the past seven years. Carpenter would finish in the Top 6 in three out of his five races in 2019, reaching a milestone 50th career Top 10 finish.
Years of preparation will culminate this weekend as VeeKay competes in his very first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race. 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. The young Dutch driver got his first taste of an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car last August when Carpenter selected him for an evaluation test at Portland International Raceway. A second successful test followed at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October, confirming VeeKay’s compatibility with the team. In late November, VeeKay was named as the ECR’s full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet for the 2020 season.
Carpenter has led his own team since ECR was formed prior to the 2012 season. Since 2014, the 39-year-old has focused exclusively on driving in the oval events, splitting the No. 20 with a second driver. For 2020, Conor Daly will drive the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet in the nine road and street course events. Carpenter, VeeKay and Daly will form ECR’s three-car lineup for the Indianapolis 500, rescheduled for August 23, 2020. At the four remaining oval events, including this weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, Daly will compete with Carlin.
ECR’s No. 21 Chevrolet has always featured an Indy Lights graduate, a trend that will continue with VeeKay. He found immediate success in the Road to Indy, following up a second-place finish in the 2017 USF2000 standings with the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 title. His championship season included seven wins, 10 podium finishes and the Road to Indy career advancement scholarship. For the 2019 Indy Lights season, VeeKay claimed six race wins and finished on the podium 14 of 18 times en route to a runner-up finish in the standings. In all, the Dutch teenager earned 16 Road to Indy victories and 36 podium finishes in just 48 races.
With 18 starts at Texas Motor Speedway to date, Carpenter will be one of the most experienced drivers in Saturday night’s field. He is also the 2014 Texas race winner, taking the victory after leading 66 of the final 67 laps and stretching his lead to over 14 seconds at one point. As the Road to Indy does not compete at Texas Motor Speedway, VeeKay will be making his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut at a track he has not yet raced at. VeeKay did have the opportunity to test his No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet at the 1.5-mile oval in mid-February.
Carpenter and VeeKay will race twin Chevrolets in the Genesys 300, carrying the colors of both Autogeek.com and SONAX USA. Over the last 15 years, Florida-based Autogeek.com 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.
Out of an abundance of caution, the Genesys 300 will be a non-spectator event. However, all on-track activity will be shown live on a variety of platforms. INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold will stream practice at 1 p.m. ET (12 p.m. local). Qualifying will be streamed on Gold and shown on NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m. ET. Pre-race coverage will be on the same network at 7:30 p.m. ET. The 200-lap Genesys 300 will be shown live on NBC at 8 p.m. ET, the first INDYCAR race on broadcast television in primetime since 2013. Post-race coverage will switch back to NBCSN at 10:30 p.m. ET. Race coverage will stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
ED CARPENTER, No. 20 SONAX Chevrolet: “Satruday cannot get here quick enough! I am so happy to know we are finally getting our season started. Texas Motor Speedway is one of my favorite stops of the year. I hope to find success and start off the season on a high note. I am very thankful for the hard work that INDYCAR, TMS, Eddie Gossage and Governor Abbott have put in to make this happen.”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet: “I am extremely happy to finally be back in the U.S. and be able to make my NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut this weekend! It will be quite an experience for my first race but the team and I are fully prepared to have our best possible performance!”
About Ed Carpenter Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) first entered the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2012. The Indianapolis-based race team has proven its versatility by collecting seven wins across each type of track the series competes on – street and road courses, short ovals and speedways. ECR is led by IndyCar’s only team owner/driver, Ed Carpenter, three-time pole winner for the Indianapolis 500 (2013, 2014 and 2018). The 2020 season will see Indiana natives Carpenter and Conor Daly in the No. 20 Chevrolet as Carpenter will drive the ovals and Daly will take over for the road and street course events. Both will be entered in the Indianapolis 500 alongside Dutch teenager Rinus VeeKay, who will compete for the Rookie of the Year title as he races the No. 21 Chevrolet for the full season. More information on Ed Carpenter Racing may be found at http://www.edcarpenterracing.com/.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!