MADIOSN, Ill — Rinus VeeKay had a relatively quiet rookie season heading into this month. He crashed early in practice at Texas in what was his first career NTT IndyCar Series start. 36 laps into the race, he crashed again.
That made team owner Ed Carpenter pretty upset with his young driver. He said he didn’t really follow his advice and was pushing too hard. With a month off to think about it, VeeKay showed his talents. He finished fifth in the Indy GP on July 4.
In Road America, he was 13th and 14th respectively. At Iowa, he had a top five car but had bad luck in getting run over on a restart by Colton Herta on Lap 156. So, with a rebuilt car overnight, he was conservative and came home 17th a night later.
Then came August.
VeeKay wowed us all with being quick all month long in Indianapolis. He became the fastest teenager ever on the famed speedway with qualifying fourth for last Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. Unfortunately, a rookie mistake in the pits cost him a top 10. He’d hit a pit crew member and get penalized early as a result. He never rebounded and finished 20th.
In Gateway, he started 14th on Saturday. But, no one passed as many cars as VeeKay as the 19 year old passed a race high 13 cars. No one else passed more than nine.
“Stellar race! We were on our way to the podium, I think, but that yellow kind of screwed me,” said the rookie driver. “I kept my chin up and had a great car to make passes with. The No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet was great in the second lane when there were no marbles.
“I’ve learned luck really isn’t our thing, but we did the best we could with the circumstances. It did get a little sketchy on the last run; I almost lost it a few times. It was 200 laps of experience today and some good points. I’m very happy and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”
On a day no one said you could pass, the Dutch rookie could. That’s why his sixth place result in his No. 21 Chevrolet was eye opening.
He was aggressive again and it paid off.