Rinus VeeKay fell in love in the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday. The Dutch teenager, invited to test the No. 20 Chevy by Ed Carpenter Racing at Portland International Raceway, made the most of the opportunity by posting competitive lap times right away.
“The day started off well. I got up to speed quite easily and on the first few runs, I got comfortable with the car, with the brakes, with the downforce,” VeeKay told RACER. “Ed Carpenter Racing gave me a great car to start with and we ended the morning in P2. We were between (Alexander) Rossi and (Ryan) Hunter-Reay, so that was good. I didn’t really expect to be there with those guys.”
Currently chasing fellow PIR IndyCar test driver Oliver Askew in the Indy Lights championship, VeeKay has made the most of his time in America on the Road to Indy. Second on his USF2000 debut in 2017, he won last year’s Pro Mazda championship with Juncos Racing and stepped up to Indy Lights with the team thanks to Mazda’s fully-funded advancement prize.
Askew’s lead in Lights could be tough to overcome, but with strong support from businesses in Holland, the 18-year-old could be primed — with or without the Lights title — to make the leap in 2020.
“The car really suits my style of driving,” he said. “It was comfortable going to the edge. The Chevy motor is an animal. I did 200-plus miles in the car, and every time I touched the throttle, it amazed me. The last runs I did, I was really hustling the car on the exit of the corners and it felt comfortable to be on the edge — and maybe going over the edge — sideways. It feels like I’ve been driving this car all season. I’ve never had that feeling so early in a car that’s new to me.”
With three Lights wins this year to draw from, it’s clear that VeeKay would welcome a chance to return ECR to victory lane in IndyCar, or any other team that’s interested in a fearless kid with immense potential.
“The ECR team is so good, so professional, and planned everything so far ahead for me that it made my job very easy,” he added. “We worked together great with the engineers and made really good adjustments from the morning to the afternoon. It was great to spend my first day in an Indy car with ECR.
“There’s one thing I know for sure today: I want to drive in IndyCar in the future. We don’t have any plans, yet, but we need to really work hard for me to be in IndyCar. It’s the dream of my life to be here.”