Canadian IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe, who captured the season opener in St. Petersburg, isn’t shy about who his racing hero was and is: Greg Moore. The talented Canadian would have been 38 on Monday.
“Hinch” paid tribute to Moore a year ago during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, when he put a pair of Moore’s used trademark red racing gloves inside his firesuit for his run (right). He ended the emotional day second on the grid, and said that run was for Moore, who never had a chance to race in that event.
Moore’s four-year career in the CART ranks from 1996 to 1999 featured five wins, and at the time of his first win in Milwaukee, 1997, he was the youngest race winner in series history at age 22.
Beyond his efforts on track, Moore was regarded as one of CART’s brightest off-track talents, a popular figure to the community at large. A handful of drivers on the current grid – Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves among them – raced against Moore during that period. Oriol Servia and Scott Dixon raced in Indy Lights in that 1999 season, a championship Moore dominated in 1995 before advancing into CART.
He lost his life in an accident at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway the last race of the 1999 season, in what would have been his final start before switching to Team Penske. Castroneves inherited the seat, which he has held to this day.
Ed Carpenter Racing has signed 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay to drive the full 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, the team announced Wednesday.
VeeKay will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet previously occupied by Spencer Pigot.
“I’m so happy!” the 19-year-old driver from the Netherlands said in a press release. “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.”
In his maiden Indy Lights season this year, VeeKay collected six race victories and seven pole potions. VeeKay previously won the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 championship, and finished second in the 2017 USF2000 standings.
VeeKay’s success in the ladder series caught the attention of Carpenter, who gave VeeKay the opportunity to first test for the team at Portland International Raceway in August.
“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.”
As a driver, Carpenter will be VeeKay’s teammate during the five oval races in 2020, once again returning to the team’s No. 20 entry. An announcement on which driver will pilot the No. 20 on the road and street circuits will be made at a later time.
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