MONTEREY Rinus ‘VeeKay’ van Kalmthout finished the penultimate race of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series season in eighteenth place. The 21-year-old former Hoofddorper fought like a lion in the Firestone Grand Prix in Monterey, but was once again unlucky.
Upon returning to the NTT INDYCAR Series calendar in 2019, the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca turned out not to be a good game for the Ed Carpenter Racing team. While Rinus VeeKay, now active for ECR, claimed two Indy Lights victories, the Dutch rider’s ECR predecessors had a particularly tough time on the legendary asphalt tape in California.
Also in 2021, the famous Laguna Seca circuit was the Achilles heel of Ed Carpenter Racing. During practice and qualifying, the team struggled to connect with the top of the competitive IndyCar field. Partly due to a gas supply problem, VeeKay was forced to settle for twenty-fourth place on the grid, teammate Conor Daly starting from eighteenth place.
At the Firestone Grand Prix in Monterey, with the 95-lap upkeep scheduled as the penultimate game of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series season, VeeKay and Ed Carpenter Racing opted for an offensive strategy. The ‘Rookie of the Year’ of the 2020 season swapped her hard Firestone compound early in the race for a set of softer tires, which allowed her to progress.
Rinus VEEKAY PR / Ed Carpenter Racing
VeeKay showed his well-known bravado and racing goggles during his fourth stint, when the soft tires were swapped for a set of hard rubber. The young Dutchman made his way to the middle segment thanks to ten very tight lap times. A top ten seemed out of the question, but a spot right behind turned out to be an option thanks to VeeKay’s driving skills.
As if the devil were playing with it, however, VeeKay once again had to face bad luck. Where the ECR rider has had to deal with so many disappointments in previous races, he had to sit down on Sunday afternoon (local time) as a communication error put the brakes on the action. VeeKay thought he must have been inside by radio traffic for a pit stop on Lap 66, but that turned out to be a misunderstanding. The mechanics of Ed Carpenter Racing were indeed reported to assist VeeKay on the 71st lap.
The hard work VeeKay had done on her previous stays turned out to have been wasted. The Dutchman lost a handful of places and had to settle for eighteenth position when the finish flag fell. The Monterey Firestone Grand Prix at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca was won by Colton Herta.
“Small detail, big consequences,” said VeeKay of the United States. “I drove in the pit lane without the team realizing it. On the radio, I heard a certain confidential text which I thought it was my turn to enter. This turned out not to be the case. I could have checked that “, the Dutchman is aware of his part.
“We knew in advance that Laguna Seca would not be an easy weekend for us. In qualifying on Saturday, to make matters worse, the accelerator weakened. From the twenty-fourth starting position, it’s always difficult, but we went there today. After a short first stint, we decided to make four stops. It worked, because after three stops I was fighting for eleventh place.
“Unfortunately, the pit stop followed which turned out not to be a pit stop,” sighs VeeKay. “It’s tough to face so much adversity, but I have no doubts that Ed Carpenter Racing and I can finish the season finale next weekend on a high note. We are going to start over, one hundred percent, to at least end this season with a good result, ”VeeKay concludes defiantly.
Thanks to its eighteenth place, VeeKay gained a place in the intermediate standings. With one game to go, the young Dutchman occupies eleventh position, having already collected 303 points. Number ten Alexander Rossi, who drove one more race than VeeKay, has just one point more. Thus, a top ten for VeeKay is still possible.
The 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series season will end on Sunday, September 26. In the streets of Long Beach in California, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is on the program. The race will start around 9:30 p.m. Dutch time.
“Introvert. Avid gamer. Wannabe beer advocate. Subtly charming zombie junkie. Social media trailblazer. Web scholar.”