INDIANAPOLIS — There’s no doubt about it, the start to the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season hasn’t gone the way that fourth year driver Rinus VeeKay had expected it to. He sits mired back in 18th in points after five races on the heels of finishes of 21st, 11th, 26th, 16th and 13th respectively.
“Like a four out of 10, not happy,” VeeKay told me on Wednesday morning to grade the start of the season for him. “I’m happy with my performance, but we’re just not there as a team. We are just struggling a bit to keep up with the other guys.”
That could change this time around. The oval around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is up next. This is a place to where Ed Carpenter Racing and VeeKay are typically fast.
VeeKay has made three prior starts here for the Indianapolis 500 and has qualified no worse than fourth in either. In fact, he’s been on the front row the last two consecutive years.
“So this is a month you know, we’re gonna be fast here,” VeeKay told me. “We will definitely have a great car and hopefully get the pole.”
The other byproduct of having Indy up next is the benefit of extra practice sessions. It’s unanimous, the drivers that are struggling this season are all happy to get six hours of practice a day to get up speed.
“I think maybe the extra practice will just help us fight some of the weaknesses in the car this season,” he says. “You could definitely try a lot of stuff. You know, normally don’t take the time for it. If it’s one hour practice session, you take the car, put a different differential or gearbox in there and you know, it’s kind of all the time we’ve got. Here we can have a two-hour break to change the car make a huge change and then go back out.”
In saying that, VeeKay knows the pressure ramps up to perform. They need it and knows that if they don’t get the season turned back around this month, then the season could spiral out of control.
“Definitely longing to do better here to just have a great finish,” he says. “Of course we want to win and I think we can with this car. But we never know. So I’m definitely I definitely want to do well. This race, but it’s not like I’m beating myself up or doing anything. I want to win this race, but I just got to do everything on track. Well, then it will happen.”
VeeKay led the ECR brigade on the no tow list on opening day in going 223.312 mph on Wednesday. His boss and teammate Ed Carpenter was second with Conor Daly in fifth making this grouping ones to watch to make an 11th straight shootout on Sunday.
“It was pretty good, good no-tow speeds,” VeeKay said post practice. “We think there’s still a lot more in it, so that’s a good sign, but also mostly the focus all afternoon has been race running, just making sure the car is good enough for the race, getting behind the backup cars, and yeah, we found out a lot about bad and good changes.
He was in the top 10 of the no tow report on Thursday (6th) and fifth on the four-lap average chart on Fast Friday.