The last month has been humbling for rookie NTT IndyCar Series prospect Rinus VeeKay. The hard-charging Dutchman, who battled down to the wire for last year’s Indy Lights championship, had a crash-filled introduction to the big series in June that left him with plenty of time to stew over the mistakes.
A crash in the opening minutes of the rookies-only practice session at Texas Motor Speedway served as a major setback that led to his missing qualifying. And despite receiving clear instructions from team owner and teammate Ed Carpenter to ease his way into the 160-lap race, youthful exuberance took over 36 laps into the run where a spin and crash collected fellow rookie Alex Palou.
After the race, Carpenter – with immense paternal calm – expressed his disappointment in VeeKay’s mental lapses, and vowed to use the long pause between Texas and this weekend’s GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis road course to recalibrate the 19-year-old’s approach to heeding instructions.
Ready to prove he’s listened and learned, VeeKay will get to demonstrate his growth in the No. 21 Chevy when practice commences on Friday.
“It was the biggest setback I’ve had in my career so far, so it was tough to digest. It took about a week before I was back to the old Rinus,” he told RACER. “Of course, I had some talks with Ed and with the team. The mistakes I made were all mine, so officially, we’re just thinking forward. And the last month we’ve been busy to make sure I’m prepared way better for every weekend, so I will not make these mistakes again. Instead of mistakes, I want to see Texas more as a lesson.”
VeeKay also expressed his appreciation for Carpenter’s tough-love tactics as the team pivoted towards Round 2 at Indy and the rest of the rapid-fire events on the horizon.
“Ed’s just a team boss that wants the best results for his driver, and yeah, it just didn’t go that way, so I understand,” he said. “At least Ed really showed what the car was capable of in Texas. Since Texas, now living in Indianapolis, right next to the Speedway, so I go to the shop three, four times a week. I can really see the connection improved between Ed and I, and also the whole team. I’m really part of the team now. It’s been a good call to move here and be with them.”
Based on the speed shown in Indy Lights, the GMR GP should present VeeKay with an opportunity to show a more accurate representation of his potential.
“I’m just seeing this as my real start of the season,” he said. “I just will try to do the best I can. I know I’ve been always quick in Indy, and then looking at the team’s best results in the past few years, it’s been very promising. So I think we’re all on the right path. And I just have to make sure I learn from everything in Texas and just move forward, then get the best results here and learn as much as possible in my rookie season.”