INDIANAPOLIS — Everyone is talking about the Chip Ganassi Racing quartet as the favorites to land in victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday. If not them, Andretti Autosports’ Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi or Ryan Hunter-Reay are getting brought up as potential contenders to win the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network) too. Helio Castroneves is a great darkhorse. So is Ed Carpenter. Is this finally his year?
Well, one driver among the top 10 starters for this weekend’s race that’s not getting a lot of love is Rinus VeeKay. I say that’s a problem.
VeeKay, is confident. He knows there’s a fine line between being too confident and overly arrogant. But, while some drivers shy away from the thoughts that VeeKay has shown thus far, he says that he’s not like other drivers too. He said this feeling that he’s had this month is just totally different than he’s ever experienced.
“It’s weird to be able to say it, but I feel we have a very fair chance of winning the race,” VeeKay said on Thursday from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We have a great race car. I don’t want to be overconfident but I feel like we can go for the win.”
His boss thinks the same about him.
“He does a good job of using them as ways to improve and not letting it hurt his confidence,” said Ed Carpenter. “Very happy with his growth. The testing crash didn’t hurt his confidence and he’s not slowing down.”
VeeKay, has numbers on his side and if trends hold, the Ed Carpenter Racing driver would become the youngest race winner in the 105 year history of this race. Right now, Troy Ruttman’s win in 1952 holds the record for the youngest winner at 22 years, 80 days.
VeeKay, is 20 years, 261 days old. He’d break the record by a little less than two years.
But, watch out for the flying Dutchman. His fellow countrymate and mentor, Arie Luyendyk, won his first Indy 500 in 1990. He started third. VeeKay, starts third on Sunday.
He said that the first win for fellow Dutch driver in F1 Max Verstappen came back in 2016 on May 15. VeeKay’s first INDYCAR win came on May 15. VeeKay, led 33 laps a couple of Saturday’s ago, that’s Verstappen’s F1 number.
There’s more signs too.
He had a butterfly land on his shoulder this month. Team members have had cardinals in their yards staring at them. He said he’s seen things in the sky. Is he looking for them? Maybe. But he says it just feels right.
“I don’t want to jinx anything of course, but I’m just very excited. I think we have the car to do it. I think we can really go for it and put up a nice performance. There’s just some signs that have been really weird this month and hopefully we can win the thing and just become a rockstar. I don’t want to be over confident but I really think we can win this race.”
Plus, the last two times that the GMR Grand Prix as well as the Indianapolis 500 were both held in the Month of May, someone swept both events. Will Power did so in 2018 and Simon Pagenaud did it in 2019. Pagenaud won the Grand Prix from the fourth row two years ago. He won the Indy 500 from the front row a few weeks later.
Power, won the GP from the pole in 2018 and followed that up with a third place qualifying effort for the ‘500 and a win a week after.
VeeKay, started in Row 4 for the GP and is starting on the front row, in third I might add, on Sunday.
Too many things are trending his way. He earned his first top five finish here last July, he earned his first pole here last October, his first podium last October, his first win two weeks ago and now a year after being the fastest teenager ever in the history of this race in 2020, he’s the youngest front row starter this May.
Youngest Indy 500 winner….
VeeKay learned a lot from last August here to know what to do this time around. Can he be the first guy on the Borg Warner Trophy with a name on it that’s not his full name?
Rinus VeeKay’s name isn’t Rinus VeeKay. It’s Rinus van Kalmthout. He says that he wanted to use the full name, but it’s too tough to pronounce and would get lost in the shuffle. He was told it would be best to shorten it. So, he did. He made it Rinus VK. But, a Dutch journalist changed the spelling and he’s just kind of gone with it.
“Sometimes I think it would be pretty cool to just use my last name but then when I have to call a company and have to spell my last name I think, ‘no lets not do this again’ he joked.
VeeKay’s shots are good. He said to me in closing that he is very superstitious. They do things as simple as filling his gas tank up but make sure it goes over the next dollar amount to 1 cent. That’s to win the next race. He gets in the car on the left side every time. He has a superstitious ritual.
He’s doing all of this for his uncle. He said he’s not lost too many family members during his young life but his uncle was one of them. It was his moms brother. He feels like his uncles presence is around him and so he dedicates his races to him.
His uncles name….
Edwin but they called him Ed….He drives for Ed Carpenter Racing.