Rinus VeeKay is newest IndyCar first-time winner, capturing GMR Grand Prix at Indy


Capitalizing on a few daring moves Saturday in the GMR Grand Prix, Rinus VeeKay became the third first-time winner in the NTT IndyCar Series this season with an inspired drive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The 20-year-old Dutchman became the fifth winner in five IndyCar races and fourth who is younger than 25 (along with Colton Herta, 21; Pato O’Ward, 22; and Alex Palou, 24).

He also joined O’Ward and Palou as the third first-time winner in five IndyCar races in 2021.

VeeKay started seventh and seized command by taking the lead in a flourish from pole-sitter Romain Grosjean and leading 33 of the final 38 laps. Grosjean led a race-high 44 laps after the Formula One veteran qualified first Friday.

FULL STATS PACKAGE: Points, results for the GMR Grand Prix

In becoming the sixth-youngest winner in IndyCar history at 20 years, 8 months and 3 days, VeeKay delivered the first victory for Ed Carpenter Racing since Josef Newgarden at Iowa Speedway, July 10, 2016.

“We had an awesome start to the weekend, best start I’ve ever had,” VeeKay told NBC Sports pit reporter Marty Snider 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.”

Rinus VeeKay exults after winning the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (Mike Dinovo/USA TODAY Sports).

Grosjean finished second by more than 6 seconds in his third IndyCar start, and Palou was third. The international podium (of a Dutchman, Frenchman and Spaniard) was followed by Americans Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal.

The last IndyCar season with three first-time winners was 2013: James Hinchcliffe, Mike Conway, Takuma Sato, Charlie Kimball

Earlier, VeeKay set himself up for the victory with a daring pass of the Chip Ganassi Racing cars of Palou and Jimmie Johnson. Both cars were exiting the pit lane on cold tires, and VeeKay needed to pass Palou for the position.

So he split the middle between them with his No. 21 Dallara-Chevrolet.

“Man, that was close,” Palou said. “That was close, but that was a good move by him. We were on the out lap on black tires and he was like six laps already with the reds, so I knew I couldn’t brake as late as him.

“Yeah, that was exciting. He was there in between Jimmie and I, so I just gave him enough room so he could fit there, and I was covering the inside. That’s all I could do I thought at that moment. But yeah, there was nothing really I could do. When you’re on the out lap on the blacks and he’s already with the reds, you cannot do anything.”

Passing Palou helped VeeKay to scoot away and cycle into the lead when Grosjean pitted under green five laps later — which made the risk worth taking.

“I saw they were coming out of pit lane, but I knew they were teammates, so they have cold tires,” VeeKay said. “I had just kind of the peak on my tires on the reds, so I knew I had to get by and kind of get a gap.

Rinus VeeKay is doused by podium finishers Romain Grosjean and Alex Palou after his victory in the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (Grace Hollars/USA TODAY Sports Images).

“Alex defended on the back straight. Jimmie drove the normal line. There was just about one car width space between them, and I went for it. I knew there were a lot of marbles on track, so didn’t want to get the tires too dirty, so I stuck it between there, and I know Jimmie is a smart driver, same for Alex, and yeah, kind of hoped they would see me, and they did.

“I was very happy that I could stick that move, and definitely gave me a big adrenaline kick.”

It’s the type of move that is building a reputation for VeeKay (whose overtake on Simon Pagenaud in the Carousel at Road America was one of 2020’s best moves), and he likes it.

Rinus VeeKay scored his first victory in his 19th IndyCar start (Mike Dinovo/USA TODAY Sports).

“Oh, yeah, definitely, as long as it’s clean, which it is,” he said. “I like passing. As spectacular as possible would be nice. I’m very, very happy that I’ve got the car to do it with. Definitely makes passing a whole lot easier.”

VeeKay was fastest in the Saturday morning warmup at IMS, whose road course layout has meshed well with his style.

He scored his first IndyCar pole and finished third last October on the IMS road course on the same weekend he re-signed with Ed Carpenter Racing.

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.

“Everyone knew at the team that they could win a race, that we could win a race,” VeeKay said. “But we just had to show it.

“Today was finally the day, and everyone in the world can see that Ed Carpenter Racing with Rinus VeeKay are race winners.”

He also had his parents, who have been big supporters of his career, present for the victory. Visiting from the Netherlands, they have been staying at his place in the nearby town of Speedway.

“Of course, it’s big to have them here,” he said. “It’s a lot to take in, but also they were worked as hard as me to get where we are now, so it’s great that they can soak in this whole experience with me.

“I am very much looking forward to dinner, and especially the dessert. No, it’s amazing to have them here, and I love them, so it’s amazing.”

What’s for dessert?

“Cheesecake,” he said with a smile. “It’s a deal I have with my trainer, when I get a podium I can eat a cheesecake, so I’m very excited, and I think I kind of deserve one.”

The race’s only yellow flag came on Lap 1 when Conor Daly’s No. Dallara-Chevrolet stopped in the grass adjacent to Turn 1 after contact with Simon Pagenaud. IndyCar race control reviewed the start but took no action.

The race restarted on Lap 4, and Grosjean quickly pulled away to a comfortable lead.

Though he later was slowed by traffic and some average pit stops, Grosjean was pleased to be on the podium for the first time in six years and less than six months after nearly being burned alive in a fiery crash in Bahrain that ended his F1 career.

“That’s really a good day, we’ve done really good work,” Grosjean told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. ” We led the start of the race. We were super fast. Bahrain, it was horrible, but for my life, it’s been a great experience, and people are really behind me, and I can feel it, and the support has been incredible.

“The team did a super good job today. P2 for the third race in IndyCar is not too bad. Leading races is what I came for, and that’s what we’ve done today.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.