INDIANAPOLIS — Rinus VeeKay held onto the provisional pole for a span of 24 hours for next Sunday’s 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network). The Dutch driver turned the days fastest lap and the 3rd quickest qualifying four-lap average in the 106 year history of the event on Saturday by setting a time of 233.655 mph in his No. 21 Dallara-Chevrolet.
He entered Sunday’s Pole Day Shootout as the likely favorite to retain his position and score his 2nd NTT INDYCAR Series pole in the last 3 races. As 12 drivers entered, 6 lasted after the first round of two on a beautiful afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 6 left?
4 for Chip Ganassi Racing and 2 for Ed Carpenter Racing. It was a clash of pole titans. They had won 6 of the last 9 poles between the two teams and one of which was going to do it again. The question was, whom?
VeeKay and Chevrolet power swept the front row on Saturday. But with both Arrow McLaren SP cars being left out after the first round, would Chevy still have the advantage or did the tide shift to the Honda’s?
“Well, I was actually pretty nervous for today,” VeeKay said. “I knew there was, well, many people counted on me to go for the pole position, so we were very fast yesterday. Of course, a bit lucky with the draw and driving in cold conditions, but, yeah, having to go two times today was not ideal.”
VeeKay’s first run saw him solidly in but he was on the limit he said. The thing is, that wouldn’t be enough so they made some changes to his No. 21 Dallara-Chevrolet to go faster.
“I could stay flat, but turn four was, yeah, very close to disaster, but stayed flat,” he said. “Then we changed the car. Took some downforce out for the Fast 6 and really matched the balance of how I liked it. I was more comfortable in my Fast 6 run than my Fast 12 run.”
VeeKay went 233.385 mph. He was on the top spot but Alex Palou and Scott Dixon were still left. Palou went 233.499 mph to knock VeeKay off. Dixon one upped Palou and set the fastest pole speed ever here (234.046 mph) to score his 5th career Indy 500 pole. Palou, dropped to 2nd and for a second consecutive year, VeeKay starts third.
“Very proud to be in the front row again,” VeeKay said. “Haven’t qualified worse than fourth in my three qualifying attempts at the 500, so very proud of that, especially at my age.
“Yeah, I think as a team, we maximized everything we had. We made all the right decisions, and I had the best car I’ve had in qualifying weekends during the Fast 6 qualifying, so that shows how on point we were today. The car was fast.”