VeeKay Cleared to Drive; Returns at Mid Ohio

Photo from ECR Twitter account

The Indycar grid is now back intact as Rinus Veekay joins Felix Rosenqvistat Mid Ohio this weekend. Both drivers missed road america because of injuries. Rosnqvist also missed Detroit Race 2 after his accident in Race 1. The announcement from Ed Carpenter Racing:

INDIANAPOLIS (June 30, 2021) – Rinus VeeKay has been medically cleared to resume driving and will return to NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Following a cycling accident, VeeKay underwent successful outpatient surgery on June 15 to repair a fractured left clavicle. He was re-evaluated this afternoon and was given clearance to return to racing by Dr. Geoffrey Billows, INDYCAR’s director of medical services. VeeKay will be back in the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet for this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
VeeKay is eager to get back behind the wheel. “First, I need to say thank you to the INDYCAR medical staff, including Dr. Webber, who did my surgery. I am very excited to race this weekend at Mid-Ohio, especially after missing the last race at Road America. I am more motivated than ever!” stated VeeKay. He continued, “I have been working incredibly hard on my recovery, doing all kinds of treatment. I feel I will be right back at the level I was before. I sat in the car earlier this week to make sure I was comfortable and I was in the simulator yesterday, I have no pain and feel as good as ever.”
The 20-year-old is in the midst of a breakout sophomore season with Ed Carpenter Racing. VeeKay earned six Top 10 finishes in seven races, including his first career victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in mid-May. One week later, he became the youngest front row starter in Indianapolis 500 history as he qualified 3rd. In his most recent event weekend, the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, VeeKay returned to the podium with a second-place finish in Race 1.
While VeeKay was recovering from surgery, Oliver Askew stepped into the No. 21 Chevrolet at Road America. Despite not being able to compete, VeeKay remains sixth in the overall championship standings. A solid performance by Askew at Road America has Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet fourth in entrant points.
VeeKay will rejoin his teammate Conor Daly, road and street course driver of the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet. The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be a three-day event, beginning with practice on Friday, July 2. Saturday, June 3 will consist of a second practice session, qualifying and final practice. The 80-lap race will be broadcast live on NBC, with coverage starting at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 4.
About Ed Carpenter RacingEd Carpenter Racing (ECR) is in its 10th season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition in 2021. The Indianapolis-based race team has proven its versatility by collecting eight wins across 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). In 2021, Indiana natives Carpenter and Conor Daly share the No. 20 Chevrolet as Carpenter drives the oval races and Daly takes over for the road and street course events. Both were entered in the Indianapolis 500 alongside 2020 Rookie of the Year Rinus VeeKay, full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet. ECR made its eSports debut in the 2020 iRX World Championship with Jim Beaver eSports. More information may be found at

VeeKay Undergoes Surgery, Askew to Sub

From Ed Carpenter Racing :

[UPDATE] @RinusVeeKay underwent successful outpatient surgery to repair a fractured clavicle sustained in a cycling accident.

As RVK is not medically cleared to drive, @OliverAskew will take over the No. 21 @_DirectSupply car at @RoadAmerica.


Still no word on who will drive the7 if Rosenqvist is not ready to return. More on this story tomorrow.

How the Front Row Fares in the Race

The 2021 front row. Photo by Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Starting in the front row has been a great place to begin the Indianapolis 500 over the last three years. There is no reason to think 2021 will be any different. the cars are basically the same, passing will be difficult, and the front row starting teams have shown great reliability over the course of an entire season.

Forty-four of the 104 Indianapolis 500 Mile Races have been won from the front row. The pole winner has won the most times, 21. Simon Pagenaud is the most recent driver win from the pole in 2019. His win from pole was the first win from the top spot since Helio Castroneves won in 2009. Since 2006, when Sam Hornish, Jr. won at the line from Marco Andretti, the race winner has started on the pole just three more times. In addition to Pagenaud and Castroneves, Scott Dixon won from pole in 2008. Pagenaud’s victory saved the 2010 decade from being just the third decade without a race winner starting from pole. The first decade of the race, 1911-1920, and the 1940s did not see the pole winner in Victory Lane.

Starting second has produced the fewest winners among the the front row starters, 11. That number seems pretty good, but only once since 1970 has the winner come from the middle spot of row 1. Juan Pablo Montoya won from the second starting spot in 2000. The 21 year drought has a decent chance of ending this year with Colton Herta.

The outside of the front row is the preferred starting spot for many drivers. Some say it presents a better approach to the first turn. 12 winners have started third, including Takuma Sato last year


A look at the chart below shows that starting places 1-7 have produced 68 of the 104 winners. The most wins further back than that come 15th, where four winners have emerged.

A 500 mile race is long, and many things happen. there have been pole winners who haven’t completed the first lap. Roberto Guerrero in 1992 spun into the the inside fence on the pace lap. Scott Sharp in 2001 crashed in turn 1 of the first lap. There are no guarantees, but if you are playing the odds, the pole and the third place starters are decent wagers.

Squeakers: Dixon Edges Herta for Pole; Simona Makes the Grid

Don’t play King of the Mountain with Scott Dixon. You will lose. Colton herta and Rinus VeeKay tried to knock Dixon off the pole for next Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. They came close, but couldn’t do it. Dixon won his fourth Indianapolis 500 pole by just 0,0197 seconds, 0.03 miles an hour. Just moments before, Herta had knocked Rinus Veekay off the pole by 0.0966 seconds, 0.1 miles an hour.

Scott dixon pulls in after his pole winning run. Photo by Tim Holle, Indycar

It was a history making front row. It is the youngest front row in history, despite Dixon’s advanced age of 40.. VeeKay is the youngest front row starter in history. Today’s pole is Dixon’s fourth at Indianapolis, tying him for second place all time with A. J. Foyt, Rex Mays, and Helio Castroneves. Dixon also won the pole for the 500 in 2008, 2015, and 2017.

The rest of the Fast nine saw several drivers change spots from yesterday. Helio Castroneves went from sixth to eighth, Tony Kanaan went from third to fifth. Alex Palou moved from seventh to sixth, and Ryan Hunter-Reay went from eighth to fifth.

VeeKay had a big wiggle in turn 1 on his lap, but he saved it to complete the lap. The bobble may have cost him the pole. VeeKay qualified fourth last year and now starts third. He is the fastest Chevy in the field again.

The first three rows have a mix of drivers that represent former series champions and 500 winners and the younger generation of drivers. Five of the first nine drivers are 40 or older and represent six 500 victories. Three are in their early twenties. Marcus Ericsson is 30.

The Last Row- Power’s Close Call

In the Last Chance Shootout, the biggest drama came on Will power’s qualifying run when his right rear tire hit the outside wall. It was a glancing blow and he completed the run to qualify for the middle of the last row. I heard that the tow link was broken, which meant he would have had to withdraw his time to repair it and possibly not have another chance to make the field. next Sunday will be Power’s worst career start will be Power’s worst career start.

Simona DeSilvestro made her qualifying run, then sat in her car for the remaining hour of the Last Chance period to see if she would need to go again. Neither Charlie Kimball nor R C Enerson had anything close to her speed. kimBall took two shots at her time, but didn’t come close.

Kimball had started the 500 for 10 consecutive years through 2020. Enerson, a rookie, and his new team, accomplished a lot just by putting a car together and having it run a qualifying set.

DeSilvestro’s team, Paretta Autosport, is a team consisting 75% or women on the crew, some of whom will be working the pits on race day. It is great to have a woman back in the field for the 500.

Beth Paretta, team owner, watches nervously as Simona DeSilvestro qualifies.Phot by James Black, Indycar
Simona DeSilvestro waves to the crowd after clinching the final starting spot. Photo by Joe Skibinski, Indycar

I will have some thoughts on the qualifying weekend tomorrow. I wish to thank everyone for following along this weekend, which set a viewership record. I appreciate all of you.

Indy Postscript- A Most Satisfying Day at IMS

Photo: Chris Owens, Indycar

A few more items from a great day at IMS:

I just watched the replay of the NBC broadcast of the GMR Grand Prix. I thought it was great coverage. I like the graphic showing which tire each car was using at the time and laps since pitted information. More of that, please.

The VeeKay family celebration on the victory podium was heart warming. We don’t often see a driver’s family enjoy the fruits of heir sacrifices to get a driver to the top of his profession.

How no one got into the marbles and spun is miraculous. the track was one large used rubber pile. VeeKay’s tires at the end show how much wear everyone’s tires had. this is a screen grab from Victory lane.

Rinus VeeKay drove the wheels off the car yesterday. He drove between Jimmie Johnson and Alex Palou to take second, and made a great pass on Grosjean to be in position to assume the lead when Dixon pitted.

The Battle for the Title

Alex Palou is the only driver to have led at least one lap in each of the five races to date. We are looking at a championship battle between teammates. Scott Dixon leads Palou by 13 points. Each has won a race. Dixon holds the tie breaker if it should come to that based on his St.Pete finish. I predict Palou will be this season’s first repeat winner.

Last Thoughts

Maybe it was because yesterday was the first may race with fans in attendance since 2019, but yesterday was one of the best days I have ever had at IMS. I’ve been there a couple times, but Saturday just had a very special feeling about it.

How odd that Ed Carpenter Racing’s first win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway should come on the road course. Carpenter’s cars are always very good on the oval. Is there another win for the team coming in two weeks?

Back tomorrow when my coverage of the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 begins. Thanks to all of you for following this weekend.

Quick Thoughts- GMR Grand Prix; These Kids Are Good

Using my infallible wisdom, I said in my pre season preview that we were one year away from seeing the younger generation of driver begin to take over the series. Next year is right now. Rinus VeeKay’s win today in the GMR Grand Prix at IMS adds to the burgeoning list of drivers who entered 2021 with two years or less experience. How have they done? Four wins, including three first winners, three poles, including one first time polesitter. The scary part is we are only about a third of the way through the season, and I have a feeling this group is only going to get better.

The average experience of the five different race winners, based on experience through 2020 is 5.6 years. Scott Dixon’s 20 years of racing makes the average as high as it is. Usually in a typical season, most newer winners come early in the year, and bymid June, the veterans take over and dominate the rest of the schedule. I have a fe3eling that isn’t going to happen in 2021.

VeeKay drove a steady race in his victory today. Pole winner Romain Grosjean also had a very good drive, but VeeKay caught him and had the better car the ;last half of the race.

Romain Grosjean earned his first career podium in Indycar

Random Thoughts

You had to feel for Conor Daly. He started fourth with a decent shot of winning today. The first lap kerfuffle left him stranded in turn 2. He finished 50 laps behind.

Speaking of tough breaks, Jack Harvey has had issues two races in a row. A failed wheel bearing in Texas knocked him out of a strong finish. Today a bad pit stop followed by a flat tire quashed his hopes of being in the fight at the end. He would have been there. Harvey will be another first time winner at some point this year.

Graham Rahal did a great job finishing fifth using an alternate strategy. The extra pit stop actually helped him gain ground.

It was nice to see Ryan Hunter-Reay leading some laps again. it has been a while. Andretti Autosport had one of their better days today. Alexander Rossi finished seventh, Hunter-reay 12th and Herta thirteenth.

This is the worst Grand Prix weekend at IMS I remember Will Power having. Power who usually is up front on this track, with multiple poles and wins, spun in qualifying and started twelfth. Power finished 11th but it wasn’t easy after several off track excursions.

I thought Juan Pablo Montoya was mostly in the way today. He held up the leaders a couple times, and showed very little speed.

Pato O’Ward had a weekend nearly as bad ashe did at St. Pete. the good news is that after his misadventure in Florida, he won at Texas. Could this pattern repeat?

Josef Newgarden seems to be lacking some pace this season. I’m not sure what the problem is.

I can’t recall another podium that had both a driver from Ed Carpenter Racing and one from Dale Coyne Racing.

I understand why IMS wants the winning car up on the podium, but the time it takes to get the car up there while the driver sits in it takes away from the spontaneity of he moment. Especially today, when we have a first time winner. I wanted VeeKay to jump out of the car imm3ediately and begin celebrating. The Victory Circle should not be staged.

Attendance was very good for the race today. I have never seen a crowd so happy. Racing at IMS returned to its proper May spot, and the fans were there. All seems right with the world tonight.

Thanks for following along this weekend. I will have a follow up story tomorrow.

Gossage to Step Down at Texas; ECR Gains May Sponsors

Photo of Eddie Gossage from TMS website

Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway, announced this morning that he will retire after the June 13 NASCAR All-Star race at TMS.

“The timing just feels right after 32 years with the company,” Gossage stated. “The Smith family and Speedway Motorsports changed my life and I will forever be appreciative and grateful.

 “Before my wife Melinda and I chart our next adventure, I’m thankful that I get to come full circle as a promoter with the NASCAR All-Star Race.”

Gossage has been a staunch supporter of Indycar racing at his facility throughout his 25 years as president of the track. There have been disputes with Indycar over dates and sanctioning fees, but Gossage made sure that the open wheel cars made at least one annual appearance in the Lone Star State.

His retirement might affect Indycar’s schedule in the long run. Texas Motor Speedway is the only track in Texas where Indycar races currently.

VeeKay, Daly Have New Sponsors

Today Ed Carpenter Racing unveiled new sponsorship which Conor Daly will run in this weekend’s GMR Grand Prix. MannKind Corporation will be the primary sponsor of the number 20 car for the fifth round of the NTT Indycar Series.

MannKind has developed an insulin product which is inhaled rather than injected. The “Tired of Pricks?” tagline is abit edgy. Try to keep it in context if you can.

From ECR news release

Rinus VeeKay’s number 21 will carry Bitcoin livery in the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Carpenter plans to use Bitcoin in his operation. From the news release:

“ECR will also be the first NTT INDYCAR SERIES team to integrate Bitcoin as a payment option for all of its employees. The first decentralized sponsorship in the history of racing will empower not only ECR on the track but the Bitcoin community off. In addition to the No. 21’s black and orange scheme, Bitcoin will be present on ECR’s other Indianapolis 500 entries..”

From ECR website

I’ll be back later with my GMR Grand Prix race preview.

Signs of Spring- St. Pete Track Build Begins

Photo: A wall section goes into place on Dan Wheldon Way. Photo from GPSTPETE Twitter page

A welcome sight in downtown St. Petersburg, although a month later than usual, today was the first day of the track build for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The race has been the traditional opening round of the NTT Indycar Series. Because of the pandemic in 2020, the race took place in August last year. In 2021, this will be the second race race of the year. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will open the year April 18, followed by St Pete the following weekend.

St. Petersburg has quite an extensive heritage of street racing dating back to the 1980s. I wrote a piece about the early racing last October.

You can find it here:

On hand for today’s ceremonies A. J. Foyt racing driver Sebastien Bourdais, a resident of St. Petersburg. Bourdais won this race in 2017 and 2018

The event has a 20,000 fans per day limit. Three day tickets are on sale now at

VeeKay Reveals 2021 Livery

Ed Carpenter racing driver Rinus VeeKay revealed the livery for car 21 on Twitter this morning. The car is basically the same as lat year’s. Sonax is the main sponsor with help fro Netherlands grocer Jumbo.

The 2020 Rookie of the Year won his first pole and earned his first podium finish at the Harvest Grand Prix last Octoberat Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I think he will have a great season in 2021.