Rookies Get First Indycar Taste at Sebring

Sebring belonged to the newcomers today as rookies Oliver Askew and Rinus VeeKay ran tests for their NTT Indycar Series teams today. Askew shared the Arrow McLaren Sp car with teammate Pato O’Ward while VeeKay became familiar with his Ed Carpenter Racing machine. Two time Australian Supercar champion Scott McLaughlin ran laps in a test for Team Penske. McLaughlin drives for Penske in Australia.

Sage Karam also got some test time in the Dreyer and Reinbold entry. DRR announced last week they will enter four events this year, including the Indianapolis 500. There is a possibility of even more races in 2020.

Notes

At times the cars looked like prototypes as they approached the turn where I watched from. The cars with a white band on the framework give this impression more than the black does. While you  can still see the drivers’ hands work the steering wheel, it is difficult to see the drivers’ head and helmet at a casual glance. The framework of the aeroscreen and the helmet seem to blend together.

The new protection device is more noticeable when the cars slow for a turn; I got used to it when the cars were at full speed.

A couple of things seemed strange:

A white Ed Carpenter Racing car.

Someone other than a regular in the Penske car.

It was great watching Indycars run again.

Some Travel Items

The “L” turn on Sebring Parkway as is now a roundabout. I didn’t realize the Mayor of Carmel had a home near the track.

It was sad to see how much of the open fields on the road approaching the track has been sold. The area will have a very different look next year, I’m afraid.

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Rinus VeeKay in the Ed Carpenter Racing #21
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Sage Karam
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Pato O’Ward
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Scott McLaughlin

 

 

VeeKay Signs with ECR

From Ed Carpenter Racing this morning. more this evening.

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RINUS VEEKAY SELECTED BY ED CARPENTER RACING TO CONTEST FULL 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES SEASON
19-Year-Old Dutch Driver Joins ECR Full-Time in the No. 21 Chevrolet
(INDIANAPOLIS) November 20, 2019 – Ed Carpenter Racing announced today it will welcome Rinus VeeKay as the full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season. The 19-year-old joins ECR after a meteoric rise through the Road to Indy ranks and a second-place finish in this year’s Indy Lights championship. As VeeKay begins his Indy car career, he will benefit from the guidance of team owner Ed Carpenter, who will be driving in his 18th season.
Born in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, Rinus van Kalmthout began karting in 2009 at the age of 8. With sights set firmly on the NTT IndyCar Series, he transitioned to the Road to Indy in 2017 and launched his U.S. career driving as Rinus VeeKay. He found immediate success, following up a second-place finish in the 2017 USF2000 standings with the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 title. His championship season included seven wins, 10 podium finishes and the Road to Indy career advancement scholarship, which placed him just one step below his ultimate goal. For the 2019 Indy Lights season, VeeKay claimed six race wins and finished on the podium 14 of 18 times en route to a runner-up finish in the standings. In all, the Dutch teenager earned 16 Road to Indy victories and 36 podium finishes in just 48 races.
The newest addition to ECR is ecstatic to have reached the pinnacle of North American open-wheel racing. “I’m so happy!” exclaimed VeeKay. “It’s a dream come true and something we have worked extremely hard for over the last couple of years. To step up from USF2000 to the NTT IndyCar Series in three years is really special.”
VeeKay got his first taste of an NTT IndyCar Series car in August when Carpenter selected him for an evaluation test at Portland International Raceway. A second successful test followed at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October, confirming VeeKay’s compatibility with the Indianapolis-based team. Days later, he stepped back into an Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy Test and set the fastest time in all six sessions. VeeKay will now focus solely on the NTT IndyCar Series, competing with ECR as a true Indy car rookie throughout the 2020 season.
“I have been following Rinus’s path through the Road to Indy, especially the past two years,” commented Carpenter. “It was clear to me that he deserves to be in an Indy car. After his first day in a car at Portland this past season, that feeling became even more apparent. His pace, feedback and demeanor inside the car was very impressive for such a young driver.”
Since ECR’s inception in 2012, the No. 21 Chevrolet has always featured an Indy Lights graduate, a trend that will continue with VeeKay. ECR has shown versatility by earning seven wins on each style of track the series competes on – street and road courses, short ovals and speedways. The team currently boasts 28 Top 5 finishes, 20 of which have been podiums. ECR Chevrolets have started on the front row of the Indianapolis 500 six of the past seven years, including Carpenter’s three pole positions. In 2019, ECR was the only multi-car team to have their entire lineup make a run for the coveted first starting position and would ultimately start second, third and fourth.
“I would like to thank Ed Carpenter and his partners for this great opportunity and trust,” continued VeeKay. “The number of available seats in the NTT IndyCar Series is very limited, so it’s a great honor that they have chosen me to join their team. I would like to thank Jumbo, La Place, KNAF TeamNL, my new partner Basic-Fit, all my other partners, my manager Charles Crews, but most all my family who made this all happen. I’m really looking forward to the start of the season.”
Carpenter echoed VeeKay’s enthusiasm for the upcoming year. “We’re very excited for the 2020 season to get here and have an ECR car return to Victory Lane!”
The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series will see ECR continue to compete with two full-time entries, the No. 20 and No. 21. While the No. 21 will feature VeeKay for the full season, Carpenter will continue as oval driver of the No. 20 in his 18th season of Indy car competition. The road and street course seat for the No. 20 is still under consideration and will be announced at a later date. VeeKay will make his NTT IndyCar Series debut with the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 15, 2020.
After a meteoric rise through the Road to Indy ranks, Rinus VeeKay has joined Ed Carpenter Racing as driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet. VeeKay, a native of the Netherlands, will be the team’s full-time driver for the upcoming NTT IndyCar Series season. The 19-year-old will make his Indy car debut on March 15, 2020 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
With his sights set firmly on the NTT IndyCar Series, Rinus VeeKay transitioned to the Road to Indy. In only three years, VeeKay finished second in the 2017 USF2000 points, won the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 championship and was runner-up in the 2019 Indy Lights standings. VeeKay will now focus solely on the NTT IndyCar Series as driver of Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 21, a car that has always featured an Indy Lights graduate.
About Ed Carpenter Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) first entered the NTT IndyCar Series in 2012. The Indianapolis-based race team has proven its versatility by collecting seven wins on each type of track the series competes on – street and road courses, short ovals and speedways. ECR is led by IndyCar’s only team owner/driver, Ed Carpenter, three-time pole winner for the Indianapolis 500 (2013, 2014 and 2018). The 2020 season will see Dutch teenager Rinus VeeKay make his Indy car debut as full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet. Carpenter will compete in his 18th season, driving the No. 20 Chevrolet in all oval events. More information on Ed Carpenter Racing may be found at http://www.edcarpenterracing.com/.
About Rinus VeeKay
19-year-old Dutch phenom, Rinus VeeKay, will achieve his dream of becoming a full-time IndyCar driver, piloting the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season. The Hoofddorp, Netherlands native arrives on the grid as the youngest competitor in the field and with high honor after a successful career in the Road to Indy development series. After finishing runner up in the 2017 USF2000 Championship, VeeKay graduated to the Indy Pro 2000 championship, where he dominated the 2018 season and won the Road to Indy scholarship to compete in Indy Lights in 2019. After six impressive victories leading to a runner-up result in the Indy Lights championship, VeeKay tallied an impressive 16 race wins and 36 podium finishes in just 48 races in his Road to Indy career. You can follow the Dutch rookie via his website RinusVeeKay.com as well as his Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Silly Season Focus Turns to Askew and VeeKay

Editor’s note: A huge thank you to all of you who read my posts. Last week I went over the 10,000 view mark. it is a figure I never imagined four years ago when i began hunting and pecking on my keyboard. I appreciate everyone’s support.

With just a couple of 2019 full time drivers not confirmed for seats in 2020, Silly Season turns its attention to two potential rookies who finished 1-2 in Indy Lights.

It was just one sentence at the end of the Chip Ganassi Racing announcement regarding Marcus Ericsson joining the team in a third car for 2020. It said the team was trying to put together a deal for 2019 Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew. Askew ‘s name has also come up in speculation about the second car at Arrow McLaren SP.

Meanwhile, Indy Lights runner-up Rinus Veekay had his second Indycar test with Ed Carpenter Racing. The test may have been an audition for the road course races in the 20 as Carpenter plans to drive the oval races again. A ride for the Indianapolis 500 may also be included.

Veterans Tony Kanaan, Santino Ferrucci, and Max Chilton don’t have officially confirmed deals. All three should return to the teams they drove for this season. Conor Daly, meanwhile, is still looking for a ride. Ed Jones may be out of the series next year. I really don’t see where he fits.

Aeroscreen Gets a Rain Test

The aeroscreen’s second test at Barber Motorsports Park passed another test. Drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud drove cars fitted with the new cockpit protection device for its first road course outing. Rain during the test allowed the drivers to check visibility in the wet.  Both drivers said the water dispersed off the screen better than it does coming off their helmet visors. neither driver saw a problem with rain.

I think it’s great  that they had the chance to observe what happens in wet conditions, but how will it do at the start of a wet race with 24 cars on track? What will happen to the last driver in a group of three or more? I hope they can get a rainy test day at an open test when more cars are on track.

 

On Wednesday, Kyle McInnes, whose great photographs have been featured in many race weekend stories this year, will be a guest columnist. Kyle took many amazing shots this season and will share them here.