Dutch driver Rinus VeeKay continued the newcomer theme on the NTT IndyCar Series circuit this season with a skillful push to the front of the GMR Grand Prix field on Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
VeeKay, 20, is the fifth different winner in five IndyCar races and also the youngest winner this season.
Romain Grosjean won the pole and led with 37 laps remaining. At that point, VeeKay passed him, gave up the lead for four laps because of a scheduled pit stop, then took over on Lap 65 and held on to win.
The victory was the first for Ed Carpenter Racing in almost five years.
“We had an awesome start to the weekend, best start I’ve ever had,” VeeKay told NBC Sports after winning in his 19th IndyCar start. “I knew we had the car, and we were so fast. Just the perfect day. It’s amazing.”
Grosjean finished second, with Alex Palou, Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal following him across the line.
The first career victory by VeeKay was the third such accomplishment among IndyCar drivers this season. The last IndyCar season that saw three first-timers in victory lane was 2013.
The 2021 season got off to a tough start for VeeKay, who had a heavy crash last month in Indy 500 testing on the IMS oval that broke a finger. But he finished in the top 10 of three of the next four races.
Grosjean’s 44 laps in front was tops in the field after having won his first pole in 10 years.
He was involved in a bad crash in Bahrain last November but has eagerly pursued the long road back.
“Bahrain was horrible but for my life it’s been a great experience and people are really behind me and I can feel it,” Grosjean said. “The support I am having is incredible. You’ve only seen me smiling here in the U.S. and we are happy to be racing here.”
–Field Level Media