VeeKay Shines In GMR Grand Prix At Indianapolis

Rinus VeeKay celebrates with a champagne shower in victory lane after winning the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Chris Owens Photo]

Rinus VeeKay celebrates with a champagne shower in victory lane after winning the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Chris Owens Photo]

By Joe Jennings

Rinus VeeKay passed early leader Romain Grosjean midway through the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon to win the 85-lap race around the 14-turn road course.

The event was the fifth in 2021 for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, and the victor became not only the fifth different winner of the season but it came in just his 19th career start. At age 20, he became the sixth youngest to win in the series.

Rinus VeeKay - GMR Grand Prix -- Photo by: Matt Fraver

Rinus VeeKay – GMR Grand Prix — Photo by: Matt Fraver

Driving the Sonax/Autogeek Chevrolet fielded by Ed Carpenter Racing, VeeKay passed pole winner Grosjean on lap 48, and the Netherlands native wasn’t to be denied from that point on.

Asked if he thought he could win the race, the jubilant winner said, “I actually thought about it. We had awesome start to the weekend. I knew we had the car; we were so fast. I’m so happy for the team. I couldn’t have done it without them. A perfect day. It’s amazing. Getting my first podium here last year and now winning is a dream.”

In the late going, rain drops rolled in but it never seemed to affect the drivers. “I wasn’t concerned and just hoped it would not get worse here in victory lane.” Among the many well wishers were VeeKay’s parents, who flew in and were in tears at the end. “I’m extremely grateful they are here as they have sacrificed everything to get me here. This win is for the family and everyone at home.”

To add international flavor to the finishing order Grosjean took second 4.0 seconds back and Alex Palou (Spain) was only 15 seconds off the pace.

VeeKay led 33 laps and Grosjean 44.

Josef Newgarden came in fourth with Graham Rahal, who recovered from an early race stop, to gain fifth place.

2019 victor Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi, talented rookie Scott McLaughlin, defending series champion Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top 10 finishers.

NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson finished 24, one lap off the pace.

One caution flag took place on the opening lap when Pagenaud and Conor Daly came together in Turn 1 of the opening lap.

GMR Grand Prix Race Results
INDIANAPOLIS – Results Saturday of the GMR Grand Prix NTT INDYCAR SERIES event on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (7) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 85, Running
2. (1) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 85, Running
3. (4) Alex Palou, Honda, 85, Running
4. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
5. (11) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
6. (10) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
7. (14) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 85, Running
8. (5) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 85, Running
9. (16) Scott Dixon, Honda, 85, Running
10. (15) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 85, Running
11. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
12. (19) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 85, Running
13. (8) Colton Herta, Honda, 85, Running
14. (9) Ed Jones, Honda, 85, Running
15. (18) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 85, Running
16. (17) Takuma Sato, Honda, 85, Running
17. (13) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 85, Running
18. (22) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 85, Running
19. (20) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 84, Running
20. (24) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 84, Running
21. (25) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 84, Running
22. (21) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 84, Running
23. (3) Jack Harvey, Honda, 84, Running
24. (23) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 84, Running
25. (6) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 50, Contact

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 116.096 mph
Time of Race: 1:47:08.5773
Margin of victory: 4.9510 seconds
Cautions: 1 for 3 laps
Lead changes: 8 among 5 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Grosjean 1-24
Palou 25
Dixon 26-27
Grosjean 28-43
Hunter-Reay 44-47
VeeKay 48-59
Grosjean 60-63
Dixon 64
VeeKay 65-85

NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings: Dixon 176, Palou 163, Newgarden 148, O’Ward 146, Rahal 137, VeeKay 135, Pagenaud 130, McLaughlin 123, Power 118, Herta 117.

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