VeeKay gets first win at Indianapolis, McLaughlin eighth

Rinus VeeKay

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.

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“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

Pos Num Name Diff Gap Team Engine
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

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