Rinus VeeKay will become a full-time NTT IndyCar Series driver in 2020 with Ed Carpenter Racing, the team confirmed Wednesday.
The 19-year-old native of Holland was among the most impressive Indy Lights drivers in 2019, earning six wins and seven poles while driving for Juncos Racing in a runner-up performance to Andretti Autosport’s title winner Oliver Askew.
Winner of the 2018 Pro Mazda championship, and second in the 2017 USF2000 championship, VeeKay skipped the traditional path to Formula 1 preferred by most European open-wheelers, and chose IndyCar as his future goal. In taking over the No. 21 Chevy, ECR’s new driver achieves a long-held dream.
I’m so happy!” said VeeKay, who tested for ECR on two occasions since August. “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.
“I would like to thank Ed Carpenter and his partners for this great opportunity and trust. 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 also 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.”
VeeKay, whose surname ‘Van Kalmthout’ was shortened and stylized to aid in its pronunciation, will continue his oval racing education under the tutelage of team owner Ed Carpenter. The three-time Indy 500 polesitter will continue the practice of competing on ovals in the No. 20 Chevy while a road racing specialist shares the car on road and street courses.
That driver will be named at a later date, said Carpenter, who has ruled out Nico Hulkenberg despite the reports appearing last week in various European media.
“I have been following Rinus’s path through the Road to Indy, especially the past two years,” Carpenter said. “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.”
VeeKay replaces 2015 Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot. The Floridian became the embodiment of the Road To Indy, winning championships — and their attached advancement prizes — to move up at every step until he landed in the IndyCar Series in 2016 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Pigot joined ECR after the 2016 Indy 500, and, barring a one-off Indy 500 run with Juncos Racing the following year, had driven exclusively for ECR through 2019, earning a best finish of second for the team across 52 starts.