SALINAS, Calif.) September 18, 2021 – Qualifying Notes
Only two rounds remain in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season with the penultimate race taking place tomorrow at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay completed qualifications this afternoon and now have their starting positions. Daly will roll off 18th while VeeKay will start 24th.
As the 2020 edition of the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, VeeKay’s only previous NTT INDYCAR SERIES experience at the road course came in the form of a one-day test in early March 2021. Yesterday’s opening session marked VeeKay’s first official practice at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. In this morning’s second practice, his session was cut short when he made contact with the Turn 4 barrier. He was checked, cleared and released from medical and the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet crew completed repairs to the rear of the car prior to qualifying.
Daly, too, worked to reacquaint himself with the 2.238-mile road course for the first time since 2019. The 2019 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey was the first race for Daly and the U.S. Air Force outside of the Indianapolis 500. From there, the partnership grew to include all of the road and street course races and the Indianapolis 500 for Ed Carpenter Racing the next two seasons. Between yesterday’s afternoon’s practice session and this morning’s, Daly and the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet crew found over a mile an hour of speed.
The ECR teammates were both assigned to Round 1, Group 2 when qualifying commenced this afternoon. Breaking from the norm, Daly selected a set of sticker red Firestone Firehawks to begin the session. The move paid dividends as Daly sat at the top of the time charts after everyone completed their first laps. He narrowly missed advancing to the second round for a second week in a row, just being bumped from the fastest six cars after the checkered flag to end the session 9th. VeeKay hopped back into the repaired No. 21 and set his fastest lap of the weekend, though it was only good for 12th in Group 2.
Race day will kick off with a half-hour warm up-session in the morning, taking place at 9 a.m. PT and streamed live on NBC’s Peacock Premium. The 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET) on Sunday, September 19.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Qualified 18th: “We made quite a step forward from practice to qualifying. We just missed transferring by a tenth of a second, just a super small amount of time. The car felt much more competitive than where we were in practice and again we qualified around some really good drivers. We know we are going to be fast in the race, we’ve been fast for several of the last events. Even though we just missed a hair of speed in one corner, we had a pretty mistake-free day and we’re going to get after it tomorrow.”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet, Qualified 24th: “First, I just want to thank my guys for all their effort to fix my car after practice this morning. Unfortunately, I created more work for them but they were able to get me ready for qualifying. That didn’t go quite as we hoped for, but we are focused on tomorrow now and we’ll see how much we can do in the race!”
About Ed Carpenter Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) has entered its 10th season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition in 2021. The Indianapolis-based race team has proven its versatility by collecting eight 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). In 2021, Indiana natives Carpenter and Conor Daly share the No. 20 Chevrolet as Carpenter drives the oval races and Daly takes over for the road and street course events. Both were entered in the Indianapolis 500 alongside 2020 Rookie of the Year Rinus VeeKay, full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet. ECR made its eSports debut in the 2020 iRX World Championship with Jim Beaver eSports. More information may be found at http://www.edcarpenterracing.com/.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!