By: Ashley McCubbin
After a runner-up in the 2019 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires campaign, Ed Carpenter signed Rinus Veekay for the following season in the NTT IndyCar Series. It’s a decision that has been paying off ever since, as evident by their success together in 2021.
The Netherlands native was able to score six top-10 finishes, including his career victory at the Indianapolis Grand Prix.
“I mean, he’s just one of those rare guys that comes along that is an exceptionally talented, naturally gifted driving a car, maximizing the car,” Ed Carpenter told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “He never gives up. He’s pretty strong at all types of circuits that we go to, whether it’s short oval, speedway, road course, street course, he’s pretty versatile.
He definitely has all the tools to develop into a champion. That’s the goal with him, is to get a championship.”
Notably, the success last season came through the first seven races, prior to an injury Veekay suffered while bicycling. Since then, he scored a best finish of 17th at Portland Raceway in the seven races afterwards, leaving lots of questions.
“That’s been a big topic of conversation internally and a lot of other people have asked that, as well,” Carpenter admitted. “Certainly I think it was a setback in preparation training, et cetera. The other thing that I think factored in a little bit late in the year, he went to a couple venues that he hadn’t been to or raced at in the past with the way the previous season was. I think there’s a combination of factors that took place. In some instances we just didn’t do a good enough job executing through an event.
“At the end of the day it’s not something that’s making me lose sleep at night. I’m pretty confident that as a group we’ll get back on track.”
Veekay shrugged off those concerns as well, saying the collarbone only bothered him at Mid-Ohio due to not being perfectly healed yet.
“The rest of the races I had no problems with the collarbone,” he commented. “I think the biggest problem was, yeah, I think as a team we were just struggling a little bit getting up to pace, showing up fast. Instead of tweaking the car a little to get the last few 10ths out, we were just trying to determine the whole setup.
“I think we just struggled a little bit, which can happen. It only showed the whole team what we had to improve for the coming season.”
It’s why he enters this season optimistic, noting the time taken this off-season to work on what he felt they could do better.