Ed Carpenter Racing will return to action this weekend with the GMR Grand Prix, the first of three NTT INDYCAR SERIES races to be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Conor Daly will race the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet for the first time this season, coincidentally on the Fourth of July. While rookie Rinus VeeKay will be making his first INDYCAR start at IMS, he comes with years of experience from Road to Indy events on the road course.
The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season began on June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway, following a nearly three-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The race marked VeeKay’s long-awaited Indy car debut, though it was cut short following an incident early in the race. The Dutch teenager would have to settle for a 22nd place finish. For ECR team owner Ed Carpenter, the beginning of his 18th season of INDYCAR competition would result in a Top 5.
This year, the No. 20 entry is split between Carpenter on the ovals and fellow Indiana native Daly for the road and street courses. 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 last month’s race at Texas, Daly competes with Carlin. The 28-year-old’s first start with ECR was set to be the original season-opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. As that race was moved to October, the GMR Grand Prix will be Daly’s first as an Ed Carpenter Racing driver. He has two previous starts in the event, including a 6th place finish in 2016.
VeeKay reached the NTT INDYCAR SERIES after a successful three-year ascent of the Road to Indy ladder. USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights each hosted doubleheader events on the IMS road course, giving VeeKay six race starts on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile circuit. Of those six starts, he has four podium finishes including a victory in the second of the Indy Lights races last year. After finishing second in the 2019 Indy Lights standings, VeeKay is now ECR’s full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet.
Saturday’s race will be part of a historic weekend where the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR Cup will all compete at the same track, with the first two using the road course and the latter using the oval. The GMR Grand Prix will also be the first of a string of five races in fifteen days as the Road America and Iowa Speedway weekends are now doubleheaders. VeeKay will compete in all events; Daly will drive the No. 20 at Indianapolis and Road America and Carpenter will take over at Iowa.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, spectators will not be permitted in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend. However, all-on track action will be shown. Friday’s practice and qualifying, as well as Saturday morning’s warm-up, will be streamed on NBC Sports Gold with an INDYCAR Pass subscription. Qualifying will also be aired live NBC Sports Network at 4:30 p.m. ET on Friday. NBC will broadcast the GMR Grand Prix with coverage beginning at 12 p.m. ET.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet: ““After what seems like many months together as a team, we still have yet to race together! I’m very excited to get out there with Ed Carpenter Racing and complete our first race! The car looks incredible, I can’t wait to get out there for the U.S. Air Force. ECR has done well at the GMR Grand Prix before so it’s time to get out there and compete for a win! We’re looking to get some good points and start off this three-weekend stretch strong.”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet: “I am really looking forward to the GMR Grand Prix, finally driving an Indy car at Indy! That’s something really special! I am excited to get to drive again and really get the season started now. We’ve got some really busy weeks coming up. I’m very confident and think we have a strong package for this weekend.”
TIL NEXT T IME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!