Dutch Rules: Rinus VeeKay joins Arie Luyendyk among fastest in Indy 500 history


INDIANAPOLIS – Rinus VeeKay and Arie Luyendyk feel tremendous Dutch pride in their shared homeland of The Netherlands.

When VeeKay, the 21-year-old NTT IndyCar Series driver from Ed Carpenter Racing, was told that his four-lap average of 233.655 mph in Saturday’s first round of qualifications was the third-fastest qualification average in Indianapolis 500 history, he was quick to point out the record is held by Luyendyk, a fellow Dutchman.

“It’s cool to have two Dutch guys in the top three in history, so it’s cool that I can be part of that,” VeeKay said.

HOW TO WATCH POLE QUALIFYINGSunday schedule for Peacock and NBC

The great Arie Luyendyk of The Netherlands holds the four-lap record of 236.986 mph set in 1996. Scott Brayton of Coldwater, Michigan, has the second-fastest qualifying average of 233.718 mph (also set in 1996 before the pole-sitter was killed in a practice crash).

VeeKay’s speed knocked Columbus, Indiana’s Tony Stewart out of third place. Stewart’s four-lap average of 233.100 mph also was set in 1996.

VeeKay ran the fastest qualification laps for the Indy 500 since 1996 – that’s over four years before he was even born.

“Those are historic numbers, and I think we bumped a lot of guys out of those charts today,” VeeKay said Saturday. “I think everyone was on their ‘A’ game, and it’s all about who improves most this year, so I think we did a great job and hopefully I can move up to P2 in those history standings.”

The irony of VeeKay’s near-record speed is it gave him the provisional pole for just one day. He advanced into the “Fast 12” group of drivers that had to go back out on Sunday and do it all over again to narrow the field to the “Fast Six.”

Those six drivers then had to return to the track and make one last four-lap average to determine the pole winner, setting the first two rows for the 106th Indy 500 on May 29 (11 a.m. ET, NBC).

Luyendyk was the “Driver of the 1990s” at the Indianapolis 500, winning in 1990 and again in 1997 (the only other driver during that decade with two Indy 500 wins was Al Unser, Jr.  in ’92 and ’94). Luyendyk got the nod because his one-lap and four-lap qualification attempts have stood the test of time since that fateful year of “The Split” in 1996.

Luyendyk has served as VeeKay’s racing mentor and advisor. He is also one of two IndyCar stewards (along with former driver Max Papis) who work alongside race director Kyle Novak.

When VeeKay’s first lap exceeded 234 mph, Luyendyk was in race control and admitted he was stunned.

“I looked up and I thought, ‘Holy (crap), where did that come from?’ ” Luyendyk told NBCSports.com in an exclusive interview. “I talked to him about his car, and he thought he could do really well. He knew what he had in hand and that happened today, as well.

“I was very impressed and really happy to see him do well, but of course, Ed Carpenter has given him a good car for Indianapolis. He took to Indy immediately when he was a rookie, and he likes to run here. Liking it is a big thing.

“He is working really well with his engineer, and they do a good job together.

“The funny thing is, I haven’t even spoken to him the whole week. We talked about stuff, but not about racing. There comes a point where you stop giving them advice because they learn a lot of it on their own.

“I’m still there as a supporter and a friend, but I’m super happy as well.”

Luyendyk also feels that “Dutch Pride” in racing that also includes Formula One champion Max Verstappen (who won Sunday in Spain).

“It’s cool to see the orange car with the Dutch flag on the front wings,” Luyendyk said. “All around, I’m still patriotic to The Netherlands as I am to the United States. I’m still patriotic and it gives me pride to see another Dutchman achieve success in racing.”

Luyendyk’s records have stood for 26 years, partly because IndyCar intentionally slowed down the cars during the Indy Racing League years that began with a new formula in 1997 and have been fairly regulated ever since.

But engineering expertise and new engine formulas have seen the speeds creep up into the 230 mph range.

“The cars have been slower all of those years and I probably don’t give myself enough credit, but you have to be realistic they have less horsepower,” Luyendyk said. “They aren’t going to break it Sunday, either, because they aren’t going to find 3 miles an hour overnight.”

Luyendyk is rooting for the day when another driver breaks his long-standing speed records at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I’ve always said I’m looking forward to the days when they get close to it and break my record during qualifying. It would be great if they broke it in practice on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and then officially broke it on Saturday or Sunday during qualifications. That would be good for the sport.

“That would be cool, and I’d be OK with that.”

VeeKay was a racing prodigy when he arrived in IndyCar as a 19-year-old rookie in 2020.

He made the “Fast Nine” for the 2020 Indianapolis 500 and holds the record as the fastest teenager in Indianapolis 500 history when he qualified fourth fastest during his rookie season with a four-lap average of 230.704 mph.

Last year, he started on the outside of the front row after running a four-lap average of 231.511 mph.

“He showed speed right away, but not always finesse,” Luyendyk said. “He goes for it. He’s not afraid to attack. Sometimes, it has bit him in the butt. We know he has the speed on any type of race track. He’s definitely a star and a star in IndyCar.

“I can see him staying for a long time and we are going to enjoy his talents. It’s good to see. I’m really happy for him and his family because they put a lot into it and sacrificed a lot. He certainly has the talent.”

Like Luyendyk, VeeKay likes the fast corners at Indianapolis. Both drivers developed a knack and a rhythm for getting around the demanding 2.5-mile oval. It’s a feeling that both share.

“It’s a matter of feel,” Luyendyk said. “When you look at what happened last year in qualifying, he saved the car, was able to keep going and put it on the front row. Those reactions and the quick reaction he had; you can’t teach anybody that. You either have it or you don’t.

“He has that feel for what to do at that place.”

That feel was on full display during qualifying weekend for the 106th Indy 500.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500

Texas starting lineup: Felix Rosenqvist back on pole; Scott Dixon qualifies second


FORT WORTH, Texas — For the second consecutive year, Felix Rosenqvist will lead the NTT IndyCar Series starting lineup to the green flag at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Arrow McLaren driver is hoping the third time will be the charm at the 1.5-mile oval, where he has run extremely well but has only a career-best 12th in five starts.

“We’ve always been good here, but this is a whole different confidence level compared to last year,” Rosenqvist told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “Let’s try to wrap it up (Sunday).”

In 2020, Rosenqvist was competing for a podium when he crashed with 10 laps remaining at Texas.

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for speeds from Saturday’s time trials

INDYCAR AT TEXASSchedule, start times, how to watch on NBC, Peacock

Last year, he started first on an oval for the first time in his career but finished 21st because of a broken halfshaft.

“It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, and naturally, I’ve always been OK here,” Rosenqvist said. “It was the first oval that made sense to me. Every year I’m building on that. But looking at the results, they don’t represent the speed I normally have.

“I don’t want to jinx anything, but I hope tomorrow is going to go a bit better and some luck our way would be nice. It’s been feeling super good. Arrow McLaren has been mega every session, so just keep it rolling.”

Arrow McLaren qualified all three of its Chevrolets in the top five, building on a second for Pato O’Ward and fourth for Alexander Rossi in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The March 5 season opener was a disappointing start for Rosenqvist who was squeezed into the wall by Scott Dixon on the first lap.

Dixon, a five-time winner at Texas, will start second Sunday, followed by Rossi and Josef Newgarden. O’Ward will start fifth alongside Takuma Sato, who will start on the outside of the third row in his Chip Ganassi Racing debut.

During nearly four hours of practice and qualifying (including a special high-line session), Saturday’s lone incident involved Conor Daly.

The Ed Carpenter Racing driver spun three times but stayed off the wall and in the frontstretch grass. Aside from a front wing change and new tires, there was no damage to his No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet during the incident midway through the 30-minute session in which drivers were limited to the high line.

“I hadn’t really had a moment before, but it snapped really aggressively,” Daly told NBC Sports after final practice. “Not ideal, but I do know my way around correcting a spin it seems like. I drove NASCAR last weekend and that seemed to help a little bit. I drove in the dirt a lot in USAC Midgets and seemed to be able to save something but not ideal or what we wanted to have happen.”

Daly will start 25th of 28 cars alongside teammate Rinus VeeKay in Row 13. Carpenter qualified 18th.

“Our three of our cars were clearly looking for something. Mechanical grip is for sure what we need. Qualifying we actually expected to be a lot better, but we found an issue there. We’ll see what happens. This race can change a lot. I’m confident in the team to hopefully figure some things out for tomorrow.”

Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Sunday’s PPG 375 at Texas Motor Speedway (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine and speed):


1. (6) Felix Rosenqvist, Dallara-Chevy, 220.264 mph
2. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 219.972


3. (7) Alexander Rossi, Dallara-Chevy, 219.960
4. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 219.801


5. (5) Pato O’Ward, Dallara-Chevy, 219.619
6. (11) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 219.508


7. (10) Alex Palou, Dallara-Honda, 219.480
8. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 219.355


9. (18) David Malukas, Dallara-Honda, 219.256
10. (26) Colton Herta, Dallara-Honda, 219.184


11. (28) Romain Grosjean, Dallara-Honda, 219.165
12. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Dallara-Honda, 219.146

ROW 7 

13. (55) Benjamin Pedersen, Dallara-Chevy, 219.100
14. (14) Santino Ferrucci, Dallara-Chevy, 218.892


15. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Dallara-Chevy, 218.765
16. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Dallara-Honda, 218.698


17. (77) Callum Ilott, Dallara-Chevy, 218.427
18. (33) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 218.375

ROW 10

19. (78) Agustin Canapino, Dallara-Chevy, 218.367
20. (27) Kyle Kirkwood, Dallara-Honda, 218.227

ROW 11

21. (06) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 218.196
22. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 218.103

ROW 12

23. (51) Sting Ray Robb, Dallara-Honda, 217.676
24. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 217.611

ROW 13

25. (20) Conor Daly, Dallara-Chevy, 217.457
26. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Dallara-Chevy, 216.880

ROW 14

27. (45) Christian Lundgaard, Dallara-Honda, 216.210
28. (30) Jack Harvey, Dallara-Honda, 216.103