VeeKay KO’s IndyCar Field

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 15 2021

Rinus VeeKay drove away with the victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

Rinus VeeKay earned his first career NTT IndyCar Series victory Saturday in the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in his 19th career start.

VeeKay drove his No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet to a 4.9510-second victory over pole winner Romain Grosjean in the No. 51 Honda of Dale Coyne Racing.

Alex Palou rounded out the podium finishers in the No. 10 The American Legion Honda.

“I actually thought it, yeah,” the confident VeeKay said when asked if he believed he could win this 85-lap race. “We had an awesome start to the weekend. 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.

“A perfect day. It’s amazing, and thank you to all the fans coming out. Getting my first podium here last year and now winning, it’s a dream.”

VeeKay, 20, became the sixth-youngest winner in series history by delivering ECR its first victory since Josef Newgarden won in July 2016 at Iowa Speedway. VeeKay also became the first driver ever to win in INDYCAR’s and in all three rungs of the Road to Indy ladder series – Indy Lights, Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000.

The victory also continued a remarkable opening five races of the 2021 season, with three first-time series winners – VeeKay, Palou (Barber Motorsports Park) and Pato O’Ward (Texas 2) – for the first time since 2013. There also has been a different winner in each race this season.

2020 Rookie of the Year VeeKay led 33 laps and averaged 116.096 mph. He took the lead for good on Lap 65 when six-time series champion Scott Dixon made his final pit stop in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, on a different pit strategy than the leaders.

Then VeeKay managed his gap over Grosjean and traffic over the closing 20 laps as very light rain began to spatter the Speedway. The moisture never required a switch to rain tires, but it kept VeeKay and the rest of the 25-driver field atop their respective steering wheels.

(This story will be updated shortly.)


Results Saturday of the GMR Grand Prix NTT INDYCAR SERIES event on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (7) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 85, Running
2. (1) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 85, Running
3. (4) Alex Palou, Honda, 85, Running
4. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
5. (11) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
6. (10) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
7. (14) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 85, Running
8. (5) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 85, Running
9. (16) Scott Dixon, Honda, 85, Running
10. (15) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 85, Running
11. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
12. (19) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 85, Running
13. (8) Colton Herta, Honda, 85, Running
14. (9) Ed Jones, Honda, 85, Running
15. (18) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 85, Running
16. (17) Takuma Sato, Honda, 85, Running
17. (13) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 85, Running
18. (22) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 85, Running
19. (20) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 84, Running
20. (24) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 84, Running
21. (25) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 84, Running
22. (21) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 84, Running
23. (3) Jack Harvey, Honda, 84, Running
24. (23) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 84, Running
25. (6) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 50, Contact

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed:
116.096 mph
Time of Race: 1:47:08.5773
Margin of victory: 4.9510 seconds
Cautions: 1 for 3 laps
Lead changes: 8 among 5 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Grosjean 1-24
Palou 25
Dixon 26-27
Grosjean 28-43
Hunter-Reay 44-47
VeeKay 48-59
Grosjean 60-63
Dixon 64
VeeKay 65-85

NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings: Dixon 176, Palou 163, Newgarden 148, O’Ward 146, Rahal 137, VeeKay 135, Pagenaud 130, McLaughlin 123, Power 118, Herta 117.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 15 2021
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