Rookie Rinus VeeKay captures first pole position in the IndyCar Series

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Rinus VeeKay won the first pole position of his NTT IndyCar Series career Thursday during a Harvest GP qualifying session that featured an interesting twist in the championship race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Ed Carpenter Racing rookie qualified first with a 1-minute, 9.7442-second lap in his No. 21 Dallara-Chevrolet around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn circuit in unusually cold and late conditions.

“It was tough; I was not very happy with the car (earlier), but Tim (Broyles) and I sat down, and we found some great stuff,” VeeKay, who has a best finish of fourth in 11 races, told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “I put in a good lap, so I’m very happy with that. Finally, finally my first pole.

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Harvest GP Race 1 overall I Group 1 results I Group 2 results

FRIDAY’S RACE: What you need to know for watching the Harvest GP

“That would be amazing (to win). We’ll go for the win now, but anything can happen. It’s a crazy track, and everyone is super talented.”

Rinus VeeKay will start on pole alongside two-time IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden, who was fastest in the first qualifying group of the session. The Team Penske driver earned a point in his pursuit of title standings leader Scott Dixon, shaving the five-time champion’s margin to 71 points with three races remaining.

Colton Herta and Will Power will make up the second row.
With qualifying starting at 6:20 p.m. ET as the sun was setting and temperatures dropping into the 50s (the track temperature was 73 degrees when the green fell), drivers struggled with unusual glare and brisk conditions they weren’t accustomed to facing at IMS (after several already went off course during practice).

The complexion of Group 1 changed dramatically when Takuma Sato spun into a gravel trap in Turn 8, bringing out a red flag for the final five minutes of the session. That was before all the drivers (including Dixon) had the chance to make laps on the faster alternate (red) tires.

Newgarden went fastest on the harder black compound, giving him the front-row starting spot.

“That’s the luckiest we’ve been as far as yellow flags go this year,” Newgarden told Lee. “I just wish we’d gotten it in the race, but we’re not going to complain obviously. We were quick on blacks. The car felt awesome right out of the box. Some of the issues we were struggling with in the first practice were completely gone.

“You couldn’t see super well in Turn 13, so we were kind of guessing coming onto this front straightaway. But it made for an interesting session. I don’t know what would have happened on reds. I think we would have been in the fight without a doubt. The car felt so good. I feel pretty confident for the race.”

Dixon will start 12th on the road course where he finished second in the July 4 race.

“That’s just the way it goes sometimes, man,” the Chip Ganassi Racing driver told Lee. “We didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe we should have tried to make the cars better on blacks, but you’re always chasing what it’s going to be for the reds.

“It’s racing, it’s not over until you’ve won the championship. We’ll keep our head down and see how it goes (Friday). We’ll dig deep and see what we get.”

Friday’s Race 1 of the Harvest GP will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, followed by a 2:30 p.m. start Saturday on NBC in Race 2.

Click here for qualifying results for Race 1 of the Harvest GP.

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws

The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)