ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — The 2022 NTT INDYCAR Series season is a big one for Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay. The Dutch driver scored his first ever series victory on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course last May. He qualified on the front row for the Indianapolis 500 a week after that. He even scored a runner-up on the streets of Detroit in early June.
Then came that bicycle crash that broke his clavicle. The stats dipped drastically from there on out.
6 top 10’s in his first 8 races before the injury to no top 15’s in the seven races after. VeeKay, 21, was a hot commodity prior to that on the market before having to reup with ECR for a third season in the No. 21 Chevrolet.
But, some have his name circled as a breakout start for 2022 and could potentially land his career on different path with a possible bigger team.
First things first, St. Pete. VeeKay, had an extremely solid weekend. He was ninth and sixth respectively in practice, qualified fourth in the Firestone Fast Six and even brought his car home in sixth for his second straight top 10 on the 1.8-mile street course.
“I am pretty happy with the result,” VeeKay said. “We really struggled with the reds, the balance went the exact opposite of what we thought it was going to do. We were a little surprised, but we made the best of the situation and finished P6.
“I saved a lot of fuel at the end, so that was good for the environment. Good start to the season! It’s good to be back in the Top 10 and back to the pace we had last year. I’m ready for Texas.”
He began the race on a set of red Firestone Firehawk tires. As the lack of grip became unmanageable, he had to pit earlier than anticipated. However, a lengthy yellow flag moved him back in to the front half of the field.
VeeKay cycled into the lead of the race on Lap 49 and paced the field for 13 laps. He relinquished the lead on Lap 63 as he made his final pit stop. Most thought it was too soon. He’s surely get relegated to a three stop strategy now right?
The 21-year-old was tasked with hitting a difficult fuel number to make it to the end without another stop. He was successful and brought the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet home in 6th.