The youngest driver in the 2020 Indianapolis 500 is also the fastest rookie in the field as Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay has qualified 4th for next weekend’s 500-mile classic. Teammates and hometown favorites Ed Carpenter and Conor Daly locked in their starting positions yesterday and will begin the race from the same row. Carpenter will be on the inside of Row 6 he qualified 16th and Daly will be on the outside in the 18th starting spot. The 2020 Indianapolis 500 will take place next Sunday, August 23. It will be shown live on NBC with coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
|RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet, Qualified 4th: “I feel great! That was the most amazing qualifying, I did not expect it! I was really happy to even make it to the Fast Nine. Being the only Chevy made it tough, but we are starting fourth! Super close to making the front row, but I’m still happy with this. And fastest rookie! Ed (Carpenter) really helped me, telling me what the wind was going to do to my car. I’ve never driven in wind like this at this track. He really helped me to be confident!”|
VeeKay put ECR in the Fast Nine Shootout for the Indianapolis 500 pole position for the fifth time in as many years after Day 1 of qualifications. He was the first of ECR’s three cars to make an attempt on Saturday after a blind draw set the order and was the fourth car to take to the 2.5-mile oval. The 19-year-old’s very first run resulted in a four-lap average of 231.114 mph. At the end of the day, the speed of his No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet held as the 6th fastest.
Positions 1-9 at the end of Saturday advanced to today’s Fast Nine Shootout. The cars were inverted, with yesterday’s fastest qualifier going out last today. VeeKay was again the fourth car to take to the track. He was undeterred by the windiest conditions of the week, setting a four-lap average of 230.704 mph. After all nine cars made run, VeeKay’s No. 21 was 4th on the pylon, the best qualifying result for a teenager in Indianapolis 500 history. The fastest rookie in the 33-car field was also the only Chevrolet-powered driver in the Fast Nine.
Years of preparation will culminate next weekend as VeeKay competes in his first Indianapolis 500. 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 2020 Indianapolis 500 will only be VeeKay’s seventh NTT INDYCAR SERIES race. He made his debut at Texas Motor Speedway in June and followed that up with his first career Top 5 finish at the IMS road course in July.
VeeKay’s No. 21 is carrying the colors of both Autogeek.com and SONAX USA for this year’s Indy 500. Over the last 15 years, car care superstore Autogeek 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 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.
|ED CARPENTER, No. 20 U.S. Space Force Chevrolet, Qualified 16th: “This has been a weekend of mixed emotions! I’m very happy for Rinus and the ECR team for once again prepping fast cars, at least we had one car in the Fast Nine Shootout. Chevrolet gave us great power yesterday and we had a chance! We gave it all we had. I was really hoping to have the U.S. Space Force car up there, but this is the Indy 500 and you can win from anywhere! That’s still the mission.”|
Carpenter’s starting position was set on Saturday. He had to wait until the middle of the day yesterday to make his first run as he was the 19th car out to qualify. His first four-lap average of 229.811 mph had him provisionally 20th on the grid. A few hours later, he returned to the track for a second attempt. He improved to 230.211 mph, which moved him up to 15th. However, in the final minutes of qualifying, Carpenter was bumped down one spot. As positions 10-33 were locked in at the end of Saturday’s qualifications, the 39-year-old will start next Sunday’s 500-mile race from the 16th position.
Carpenter is the only individual in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES who handles both the responsibility of driving and owning his own team. He will be one of the most experienced drivers in next Sunday’s field as he has now qualified for his 17th Indy 500. The Indianapolis native solidified his status as a hometown favorite by winning the pole position in 2013 and 2014; in 2018, he became just the 10th driver to collect three or more Indy 500 poles in the century-plus history of the race. Two of his strongest results have come the past two years, including a runner-up after leading the most laps in 2018. Carpenter now competes exclusively in the oval events, beginning his 18th season of Indy car competition with a Top 5 finish at Texas Motor Speedway in June.
The No. 20 Chevrolet features the U.S. Space Force, the newest branch of the United States military. Carpenter joined Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, last week on FOX and Friends to announce the partnership. The U.S. Space Force became the sixth branch of the Department of Defense when it was signed into law on December 20, 2019. Its mission is to protect the interests of the United States in space; deter aggression in, from and to space; and conduct space operations. Similar to the branches of the military which are dedicated to protecting and securing the air, land, and sea, the U.S. Space Force focuses singularly on space.
|CONOR DALY, No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Qualified 18th: “Not the qualifying we wanted to have! After Friday, we knew our car was a challenge to drive in the heat. The time of day where we drew to qualify was quite hot. I had a bit of a loose moment on the last lap, which really didn’t help the four-lap average. We went out later in the day and improved a little bit, but it was just really challenging in the heat. We know the U.S. Air Force Chevy is a going to be a good racecar, though. Ed (Carpenter) and I are starting from the same row and we can definitely move forward from there.”|
Daly rolled out for his first qualification attempt moments after Carpenter did yesterday as he was the 25th driver in line. The 28-year-old’s average speed over four laps was 229.884 mph, which had him 19th overall. He too made a second run later in the day, increasing his average speed to 229.955 mph. He moved up to 17th on the grid, but the same late run that dropped Carpenter a position also affected Daly. He will start on Row 6, same as Carpenter, from the 18th position.
Daly is another hometown favorite as he was born and raised in nearby Noblesville, Ind. The 2020 Indianapolis 500 will be Daly’s 7th and will come on the heels of his most successful Month of May to date. Last year, he set the fastest lap all practice sessions earning career-best “500” finish of 10th. In addition to stepping into ECR’s third entry for the Indianapolis 500, Daly drives ECR’s No. 20 in the road and street course events and Carlin’s No. 59 entry in the remaining oval events. Daly captured his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position last month at Iowa Speedway.
Ed Carpenter Racing is proud to represent two branches of the United States Armed Forces as Daly races the U.S. Air Force Chevrolet. For the third consecutive year, Daly will represent the U.S. Air Force in the Indianapolis 500. The No. 47 was selected for Daly’s car with double significance. The U.S. Air Force was officially founded on September 18, 1947 with the passage of the National Security Act of 1947. Less than a month later, on October 14, 1947, an experimental U.S. Air Force rocket plane became the first crewed aircraft to exceed the speed of sound. The Bell X-1 was painted bright orange so it could be seen in test flights and reached Mach 1.06 (700 mph) at an altitude of 43,000 feet over the Mojave Desert in California.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!