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Rinus VeeKay Bounces Back from Morning Accident to Qualify Top 12

Rinus VeeKay

Rinus VeeKay looks to make the Firestone Fast Six for the 108th Indianapolis 500 after a memorable day in qualifying. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Qualifying Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is unlike any other session in all of motorsports. Moments such as Rinus VeeKay‘s qualifying runs are reasons why fans show up to the 2.5-mile oval, especially when a driver overcomes the odds to not only qualify for the Indianapolis 500 but also get a step closer to making the Firestone Fast Six.

On an unforgettable Saturday, VeeKay overcame a harrowing crash to not only come back and re-qualify, but end up 11th quickest after setting a four-lap average speed of 232.419 mph. This blistering speed was enough to advance into Sunday’s top-12 qualifying session in which VeeKay is determined to make his fifth Indy 500 Fast Six in as many races.

After inadvertently stealing the headlines, VeeKay credited his Ed Carpenter Racing No. 21 crew for putting in all of the hard work to get the Chevrolet-powered entry prepared in under three hours.

“What a day. Just such a roller coaster. I mean, such a heartbreak to start the day. Crew got the car back together in under three hours, which is incredible to start with,” said VeeKay.

“Then to get a banker run in, get the car cooled down, go back out again at the end and do that — I’ve never lost hope, but I mean, I never expected us to do that. It’s such a great story, such a great job by the guys.

“I think they are the real winners here today. I just had to stay flat for four laps today and hang on to the thing. They made it possible for me.”

Rinus VeeKay

The Ed Carpenter Racing No. 21 team, driven by Rinus VeeKay, rolling the Chevrolet-powered machine during Saturday’s qualifying session. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

VeeKay’s comeback journey began in the morning when he was the fourth driver attempting to qualify. Things went wrong coming into the third turn when the left side of his Ed Carpenter Racing entry slammed the wall, halting the session.

Fortunately, VeeKay exited his car on his own and despite limping, his mind shifted to getting back to the track as quickly as possible. Repairs were made and several parts had to be replaced with spare ones. Only the seating tub and engine remained intact, parts which VeeKay made clear could not be replaced.

“It was a pretty hard hit, and my right knee hurts a little bit after, but 20 minutes later it was gone,” VeeKay commented about his crash. “It was more the shock of the incident. Physically had harder hits at recess. You kind of get over that. That’s not my worries. It’s more the car really.”

All of the hard work to get the No. 21 machine slowly came to fruition when VeeKay made his second qualifying attempt in which his initial four-lap average run was 231.166 mph, putting him at the time 29th on the board.

From there, more adjustments were made to avoid the opposite end of the top-12 known as the Last Row Shootout in which four cars fight for three spots. With a few minutes remaining, the No. 21 team opted to give VeeKay another chance to improve his qualifying order.

This decision by the Ed Carpenter Racing organization was beyond worthwhile as VeeKay lived up to his moniker “Rocket Rinus” and put on a flyer four-times around IMS and bumped Colton Herta out of the second round of qualifying.

Rinus VeeKay

Rinus VeeKay (21) storming around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

VeeKay’s crew and family, and the crowd in attendance were dazzled by the Dutchman overcoming the relentless adversity. Now, VeeKay is poised to fight for his fourth straight front row start should he end up advancing into the Fast Six. More importantly, he has the ability to capture his first Indy 500 pole, which would mark his first INDYCAR pole since Barber Motorsports Park in 2022.

Everything else that went down is put on the back burner, knowing that a shot at pole for the 108th Indianapolis 500 is still up for grabs.

“We’re here to get pole position and to win the race. We’re not here for anything less,” said VeeKay. “We know we have that car. We’ve had it at every — I’ve had it in every previous year. But this is just a day where you cannot really be assured of anything. Yeah, we made something really good happen.”

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR and INDYCAR. Content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going. On the side, I also do sports production ranging from Seattle Kraken hockey to the 2023 NCAA Women's March Madness. All for the love of the game. With four National Motorsports Press Association photography awards, I'm not slowing down anytime soon. Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to HAIM. At times, there might be some Paul Thomas Anderson and Southern California references in my social media.

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