INDIANAPOLIS — Rinus VeeKay was ecstatic to beat his boss Ed Carpenter in qualifying on Sunday to set the first three rows for next Sunday’s 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network). VeeKay, 20, knows his boss’ skill around here. Carpenter, was blazing quick on Saturday and a three-time pole winner of this race.
But, since VeeKay has come onboard the team, he’s 2-0 against Carpenter in Indy 500 qualifying. The Dutch driver qualified fourth as the fastest teenager ever last year. He was the lone Chevy representative in the Fast Nine last August.
This year, the only two Chevys were ECR cars. VeeKay was one of them. He becomes the youngest front row starter ever. Carpenter will start fourth.
A mere .0047 of a second separated VeeKay from team owner Carpenter, who will start 4th in the 2021 Indianapolis 500. VeeKay’s four-lap average was 231.511 miles per hour, versus Carpenter’s speed of 231.504 mph. It will be the 6th time Carpenter has had a Top 10 start at Indianapolis in the past nine years.
VeeKay places an ECR car on the front row for the 7th time in nine years.
“I’m happy we were in the hunt and we have a car on the front row,” said Carpenter. “Both of our cars were extremely close and that small gap between the two cars is a testament to ECR and the quality of cars that they build.
“It’s tough competition, whether it’s Honda versus Chevy or the two of us going against Scott Dixon and Colton Herta. We had all the power we needed to fight for the pole, they were just a little better than us today. There are so many great drivers in the series, it’s awesome to compete against them and we love the challenge.
“At the end of the day, we’re happy with where we’re starting the Indy 500. Rinus is the real deal, I’m proud of him. He’s a resilient kid, he learns and keeps getting better. He’s going to be tough to beat next Sunday, I’m as worried about him as anyone. But we’ll be in a great spot for the race, with my teammate in front of me, so we’ll tune up the car today and Carb Day and be ready for next Sunday.”
Carpenter is one of the most experienced drivers in the field, now in his 19th season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition. He is the only individual who handles both the responsibility of driving and owning his own team. 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 finishes have come in recent years, including a runner-up finish after leading the most laps in 2018.