In his first qualification session with Ed Carpenter Racing, Conor Daly advanced to the second round and secured himself a solid starting position inside the Top 10. Daly has not raced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in several years, but it was not evident as he qualified 8th for tomorrow’s GMR Grand Prix. Rookie Rinus VeeKay came up short on time and was only able to get one flying lap in, which would give him the 18th starting position.
A one-and-a-half-hour practice session began today’s on-track activity, where both VeeKay and Daly enjoyed time near the top of the scoring pylon. This afternoon, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES held knockout qualifying. The field was split into two groups for the first round with those finishing in odd numbered positions in practice being assigned to Group 2 and even numbered finishing positions to Group 1. VeeKay finished practice in 17th, placing him in Group 2. Daly, who was 20th in practice, was out first in Group 1.
Daly started on a set of Firestone’s primary black Firehawks before switching to a set of sticker reds. He was 11th after his run of blacks, but the reds suited the setup of the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet much better. With the switch, he went straight to the top of the scoring sheet. By the end of Daly’s 10-minute session he was 4th, which secured him a place in the second round of qualifying.
VeeKay was out next for his first experience with NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying. His run on black Firestone Firehawks started strong as he immediately went to the top spot at the conclusion of his first lap. It was anticipated that he would have time for two laps on his set of sticker reds, but there would only be time for one. The checkered flag came out just prior to the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet crossing the timing line. With a lap of 124.180 mph, VeeKay will start 18th in the GMR Grand Prix.
The fastest six cars from both groups advanced to Round 2 of qualifications. Daly again headed out on black Firehawks to start and the handling of his car improved after a change to red Firehawks. A quick lap of 125.047 mph would put him 8th. As only the top six advance to the Firestone Fast 6, Daly’s starting position was set.
Daly has two previous starts on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile circuit, including a 6th place finish in 2016. The GMR Grand Prix will be VeeKay’s first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on a road course and only his second overall. The Dutch teenager made his debut at the season-opening race at Texas Motor Speedway last month. He has six Road to Indy starts on the IMS road course and won the second race of the Indy Lights doubleheader last year. ECR Chevrolets finished 5th and 6th in the 2019 GMR Grand Prix.
Tomorrow will begin with a 30-minute warmup session at 9 a.m. ET, which can be viewed on NBC Sports Gold. The GMR Grand Prix will consist of 80 lap with the green flag waving just past noon. NBC will broadcast the event with coverage beginning at 12 p.m. ET.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Qualified 8th: “We felt like we had a lot of grip on the red tires. For some reason, there’s a big difference in tires for us. On the blacks, the car just doesn’t quite come in the way I like it. As soon as we put on reds, I can really get on it, even on Lap 1. We have to try and bring those balances a little closer together for tomorrow, but I’m super pumped. We’ve got the U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, all of us here together for the first time at Ed Carpenter Racing, this is a great start. We’re right in the fight starting 8th. That’s all we want a chance to be up there and get good points at the end of the day.”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet, Qualified 18th: “It was a tough first qualifying in IndyCar. We had a pretty good first run on blacks, then went to reds. I anticipated having two flying laps, but at the end of my first one I caught the checkered. It’s a bummer, I think there was more time the car if we’d had a second lap. We’re starting 18th, which isn’t where we wanted to be but we’ll make the best of it.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!