VeeKay gets first win at Indianapolis, McLaughlin eighth
Sunday 16th May, 2021 - 6:43am
Dutch driver Rinus VeeKay has claimed his first IndyCar Series win for Ed Carpenter Racing, winning the Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 20-year-old drove from seventh on the grid, passing pole-sitter Romain Grosjean midway through the race, remaining unchallenged until the chequered flag.
It marks the fifth different victor in five races this season following wins for Alex Palou, Colton Herta, Scott Dixon, and Pato O’Ward.
“We had an awesome start of the weekend, the best start I’ve ever had,” said VeeKay.
“Starting seventh wasn’t amazing, but I knew we had the car. We were so fast. I’m so happy for the team. So thankful. I couldn’t have done it without them.
“It’s just the perfect day. I don’t know what to say. It’s amazing. Grabbing my first podium here last year, and now winning, it’s a dream.”
Grosjean led the field to Green with Josef Newgarden (Team Penske) at his side, though it was Jack Harvey (Meyer Shank Racing) who would steal second away at the first turn.
In the first lap melee, Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) bumped into Conor Daly (Ed Carpenter Racing), forcing the American off-track.
Daly plummeted down the pecking order and was soon bogged at the bottom as he stalled in the grass.
That brought out the Safety Car with Grosjean in the lead. Harvey was second, Newgarden third, Alex Palou (Chip Ganassi Racing) fourth, and McLaughlin fifth.
During the Full Course Caution, Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing), and Pato O’Ward (Arrow McLaren SP) pitted.
The race soon restarted with Grosjean at the head of the field.
Rinus VeeKay (Ed Carpenter Racing) was the first of those inside the top 10 to pit from sixth on Lap 12. Fifth placed McLaughlin reacted, pitting a lap later.
The undercut worked to great effect though, VeeKay making his way by McLaughlin on Lap 14.
Out in front, Grosjean was unchallenged as he established a sizable lead over Harvey.
Shortly after Grosjean pitted on Lap 25, an off-strategy Dixon came to the lane, giving the Frenchman back his lead. Still, it was Harvey in second while Palou was third and Veekay fourth.
Rahal was fifth, albeit off-strategy having twice pitted under the first Safety Car, with Newgarden, McLaughlin, Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport), and Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) the top 10.
There were dramas for Harvey in the second round of pit stops on Lap 38. First, the right rear wheel wasn’t fitted properly as he launched away, forcing him to roll back into his pit box. Then, the Englishman suffered a puncture on that newly fitted wheel on his out lap.
In the midst of the pit stop sequence, Grosjean got mired in the traffic. A forceful pass on Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) was returned a few laps later, costing Grosjean valuable time.
VeeKay pitted just shy of halfway, prompting Grosjean to react. Crucially, VeeKay was fitted with the soft compound tyre while Grosjean was on the harder compound.
Come Lap 44, VeeKay launched down the inside at Turn 12 and sealed the lead.
VeeKay survived another round of pit stops, establishing a solid advantage over Grosjean, going on to win by who had Palou in tow.
The final stanza of the race saw rain threaten VeeKay’s lead, though it never eventuated.
Newgarden finished fourth with Rahal an incredible fourth having been last and 13 seconds off the back of the field at the start of the race.
Pagenaud was sixth while Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport) was another to make a recovery drive to seventh.
The two Scotts, McLaughlin and Dixon, were eighth and ninth while Herta rounded out the top 10.
The IndyCar Series begins practice for the Indianapolis 500 next week, with first practice on Wednesday (AEST).
Results: GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
|1||21||Rinus VeeKay||Lap 85||Ed Carpenter Racing||Chevy|
|2||51||Romain Grosjean||4.951||4.951||Dale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware Racing||Honda|
|3||10||Alex Palou||15.0726||10.1216||Chip Ganassi Racing||Honda|
|4||2||Josef Newgarden||18.4472||3.3746||Team Penske||Chevy|
|5||15||Graham Rahal||26.9813||8.5341||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Honda|
|6||22||Simon Pagenaud||27.8704||0.8891||Team Penske||Chevy|
|7||27||Alexander Rossi||33.2703||5.3999||Andretti Autosport||Honda|
|8||3||Scott McLaughlin||36.1862||2.9159||Team Penske||Chevy|
|9||9||Scott Dixon||36.8362||0.65||Chip Ganassi Racing||Honda|
|10||8||Marcus Ericsson||37.1971||0.3609||Chip Ganassi Racing||Honda|
|11||12||Will Power||39.802||2.6049||Team Penske||Chevy|
|12||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||40.3892||0.5872||Andretti Autosport||Honda|
|13||26||Colton Herta||43.1147||2.7255||Andretti Autosport||Honda|
|14||18||Ed Jones||43.811||0.6963||Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan||Honda|
|15||5||Pato O’Ward||44.5448||0.7338||Arrow McLaren SP||Chevy|
|16||30||Takuma Sato||44.9971||0.4523||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Honda|
|17||7||Felix Rosenqvist||45.4208||0.4237||Arrow McLaren SP||Chevy|
|18||29||James Hinchcliffe||65.1989||19.7781||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||Honda|
|19||14||Sebastien Bourdais||1 LAPS||16.9088||AJ Foyt Enterprises||Chevy|
|20||4||Dalton Kellett||1 LAPS||10.6891||AJ Foyt Enterprises||Chevy|
|21||86||Juan Pablo Montoya||1 LAPS||2.4217||Arrow McLaren SP||Chevy|
|22||11||Charlie Kimball||1 LAPS||3.8046||AJ Foyt Enterprises||Chevy|
|23||60||Jack Harvey||1 LAPS||41.4656||Meyer Shank Racing||Honda|
|24||48||Jimmie Johnson||1 LAPS||4.4519||Chip Ganassi Racing||Honda|
|25||20||Conor Daly||Contact||18 LAPS||Ed Carpenter Racing||Chevy|