INDIANAPOLIS — There’s just something about this place for Rinus VeeKay. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the site of his first career top five in the NTT IndyCar Series. It’s the place for his first pole. It’s his first podium. It’s now the site of his first career win. IMS is special for VeeKay.
Last year, he became the fastest teenager to ever qualify for the Indianapolis 500. This year, he one ups that and becomes the youngest driver to ever start on the front row. VeeKay, turned a four-lap average of 231.511 mph in his No. 21 Chevrolet. What was different from this year to last?
“Yeah, we’re quicker this year,” VeeKay said. “Well, it was quite a bit different. There was a big, big temperature change between yesterday and today’s run. It’s way hotter. I had the confidence that the car was going to be very stuck.
“Last year the four laps were quite easy, like there was no loose moments or understeer. Right now I did my first lap and it was already quite neutral. Then the last lap, turn one, I don’t know why I stayed flat, but I did it. I kept it on track. It was very close.
“It was definitely very hard. I think that even made the car faster. We were just so on the limit, it was perfect for me. The team put so much work into it. I know that everyone at the team wants to return to the front row. Yeah, preferably pole. Was just not enough today. I’m over the moon with front row, super happy. I think we can definitely go for a 500 win from here.”
The last two times that the GP and the Indy 500 were both held in the Month of May, someone swept both races. Also, both drivers qualified on the front row in those years too.
“Yeah, I definitely feel very good,” he said. “We have a very strong car, especially in race trim we’re very strong. I think also the Chevy power is great in race trim. Very excited for that.”
VeeKay said he talked to countrymate and mentor Arie Luyendyk and that the two-time Indy 500 champion said that it took him five years to get a front row. It’s been only two for VeeKay. Also, Luyendyk started third in this race before. It was a race that he won.
“I’m just very happy with how the car behaved,” VeeKay continued. “All the work from the team was very, very good. We have a very strong qualifying car, but also in race trim, especially with only two cars in front of me, it’s going to be very good. I’m very excited to give it everything next week.”