It took Rinus ‘VeeKay’ van Kalmthout just two minutes and 34.073 seconds to complete four laps of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In doing so, the 21-year-old Dutchman exceeded his own expectations; after the first day of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, VeeKay took first place with an unheard of average of 233.655 miles per hour.
As usual at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the scene of the sixth round of the 2022 NTT INDYCAR Series season, eyes were on the Ed Carpenter Racing team before qualifying. Team boss and namesake Ed Carpenter has already won three pole positions for the Indianapolis 500 in the past (2013, 2014 and 2018). His driver Rinus VeeKay, driver of the orange-colored #21 Bitcoin Racing Team with BitNile car, reached the top four starting positions twice in his two previous entries in the legendary race.
Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 will be spread over two days. On the first day, Saturday, all 33 drivers are allowed to drive a qualifying run. They must complete four laps in succession, the average speed of which is measured. The top twelve will advance to the second qualifying segment, which will be held on Sunday. In 2022 there will be a third segment, the so-called Fast Six, where the fastest six drivers will be allowed to take the track again to battle it out who will take the coveted pole position.
Unlike team boss and teammate Carpenter, VeeKay had secured an advantageous starting position in the qualifying draw, which took place last Friday. VeeKay was already the second on the track, which can be an advantage in a field with thirty-three drivers. Since the mercury still indicated relatively cool temperatures when VeeKay entered the track, he had an extra factor on his side to produce a fast run.
VeeKay shook the Brickyard. The 21-year-old from Hoofddorp recorded an otherworldly first lap of no less than 234.702 miles per hour, one of the fastest laps ever driven at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That insane first lap was followed by a circuit averaging 233,921 miles per hour; the third lap went in at 233.353 mph and VeeKay concluded his four-lap run with a very solid 232.655 mph. The average of those four laps turned out to be a phenomenal 233.655 miles per hour.
To illustrate, in the rich 106-year history of the Indianapolis 500, an event in which 33 drivers participate each year, there have been only two faster qualifying runs. Only compatriot Arie Luyendyk and the lamented Scott Brayton managed to go a little faster in 1996 than VeeKay did today (Saturday).
“I’m very pleased,” said VeeKay from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with a sense of understatement. “The conditions were good, which was nice of course, but the car was also just about perfect. There is still some work to be done for tomorrow’s sessions, but I can say for sure that this is a good start!”
“First place is always nice and to be in P1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is very special, but I have to keep my focus on qualifying. We are in the first twelve, but the starting positions will only become clear tomorrow. There are still two sessions to go and I have to be flawless. If I am, I can compete for pole position. A front row seat should be within our capabilities anyway.”
During his first two appearances at the Indianapolis 500, VeeKay could count on the support of his experienced team boss Carpenter, among others, but nowadays the talented twenty-something knows how to find his own path effortlessly. “It’s kind of a flow that I’m in, I know what I’m doing.”
With VeeKay occupying third in the perennial rankings, it’s tempting to look at Arie Luyendyk’s all-time speed record (236.986 miles per hour averaged over four laps), but VeeKay knows that his compatriot at the time of the record run is much more than that. had engine power. “Normally, Arie’s record will stand for at least another year, because we are more than three miles from it. Of course we can make it a Dutch 1-2, if I go a little faster tomorrow!”, concludes VeeKay combatively.
Qualifying for the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge continues on Sunday with the Fast Twelve and Fast Six sessions. Because VeeKay recorded the fastest lap times in the first qualifying segment, the Dutchman will be the last to enter the track tomorrow. The all-determining qualifying slot starts around 10:30 PM Dutch time.