18-year-old Dutchman Rinus VeeKay will step into the cockpit of the No. 20 Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing today at Portland International Raceway. “It’s the greatest feeling I’ve had in a very long time,” VeeKay said. “I’ve had so many nights that I would dream about driving an Indy car and now it’s really going to happen. It’s going to be a big spike in my career!”
The opportunity comes after having an impressive season while driving the No. 21 Juncos Racing Dallara IL-15 in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, the top rung of the three-tier Road to Indy development ladder system sanctioned by INDYCAR. Through 13 of 18 rounds, VeeKay has scored an impressive three wins, nine podiums and three poles en route to second in the overall championship standings.
Ed Carpenter, the owner/driver of Ed Carpenter Racing, said he spoke with VeeKay last year about testing together, “but the timing just didn’t work out.”
“I think it’s beneficial for us as a team on multiple fronts: One, we get to evaluate a young driver that’s really shown a lot of promise in the Road to Indy ladder series; Two, testing is so restricted now it’s a way for us to get an extra test day for the team,” Carpenter said.
“Our primary drivers don’t get to drive, but we can still go out to Portland. By running Rinus, it’s an additional test day that we wouldn’t have otherwise gotten. It’s a win for the team in that regard. It’s also a win for the series because it gives opportunities to those Indy Lights guys to get a chance to not only show us what they can do, but they can also use that to show up, showcase their talents to other teams as well.”
Additionally, Carpenter, a three-time race winner in IndyCar, wanted to bring someone in from Indy Lights that wasn’t attached to a rival team.
“All the other guys at the top of the championship that had been running really well are with Andretti,” Carpenter said. “(VeeKay) drives for Juncos, which they’re not really running a full IndyCar season anymore. To me, he looked like the best guy available for us to do a test with that wasn’t associated with another IndyCar team.”