Though Rinus VeeKay recorded his highest oval finish in an Indy car yesterday, he stepped up his performance even more today by earning the best result of his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career to date. The 19-year-old rookie finished 4th in Race 2 of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway. Ed Carpenter relied on years of experience to manage an ill-handling race car around the 1.25-mile oval. Even with the difficult driving conditions, Ed Carpenter Racing’s team owner brought his car home cleanly in his final race of the 2020 season.
Today’s starting field was set by the second lap of a two-lap qualifying run yesterday. The first lap after the green flag set the field for Race 1, the first of the doubleheader events at WWT Raceway. The second lap – following the white flag – determined the field for today’s Race 2. Lap 2 for VeeKay placed him 18th on today’s grid and Carpenter rolled off 22nd.
Carpenter was collected in a multi-car incident on Lap 1 of Race 1 yesterday and the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet suffered significant bodywork and suspension damage. After lengthy repairs, Carpenter briefly rejoined the event to confirm the car could race today. Despite the hard work by the team, the No. 20 did not handle the same as it did before Carpenter was hit. He managed the situation the best he could, keeping his nose clean and completing the race. He finished 21st in Race 2 of the Bommarito 500. As this was the final oval race scheduled for 2020, today marked the conclusion of Carpenter’s 18th season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition.
VeeKay started 14th in Race 1 and drove up to a 6th place finish, which was his highest finish on an oval until today. At the start of today’s 200-lap race, VeeKay went four-wide down the backstretch and gained seven positions in the first lap. Using the same strategy as yesterday, the No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet was the first car to make a pit stop and came in on Lap 41. The call shot him to the front of the field with the leaders and by Lap 60, VeeKay was running 3rd. He held the position until his second stop on Lap 95, when he began another charge through the field.
The Dutch teenager was 5th following his third and final pit stop, having been trapped behind lapped traffic. A spirited battle followed with Colton Herta and VeeKay was eventually able to make the pass. After dispatching another lapped car, VeeKay set his sights on Will Power. More lapped traffic came into play in the closing laps. After VeeKay worked his way through multiple cars, he remained 4th. The only caution flag of the day flew on Lap 197, solidifying VeeKay’s finishing position.
VeeKay’s previous best finish was 5th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on the Fourth of July. He now has 4th, 5th and 6th place finishes only nine races into his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career. His best qualifying position came last week in the Indianapolis 500 when he started 4th.
A doubleheader on the IMS road course on October 2 and 3 is the next scheduled event on the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar. However, a doubleheader event at Mid-Ohio Sport Car Course has yet to be rescheduled from its original date in early August. For the remainder of the season, VeeKay’s teammate will be Conor Daly. Daly races the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet for the road and street course events, which make up the remainder of this year’s schedule.
ED CARPENTER, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Finished 21st: “This was a really disappointing end to a very tough year. It was really only a couple of months since our first race was in June! It started off well there, but it has been a lot of bad luck since then. Today was just another tough day, the car wasn’t the same after we were hit at the start yesterday. There are still a few races left in 2020, so we’ll focus on Rinus and Conor and finish out the season strong as a team.”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet, Finished 4th: “It was a great race, one of the best races I have ever driven! Yesterday, I started 14th and finished 6th so today, starting 18th, I was aiming for a Top 10 finish. I had an amazing first lap, got around a lot of guys. The strategy was brilliant, so shout out to my team for making this possible! Those last few laps were very tough, everyone was all over the place. Just missed out on the podium but that’s okay, P4 was the best I could do!”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!