Rinus VeeKay poses for pictures at IMS. (Al Steinberg Photo)

VeeKay ‘Very Pleased’ With Historic Qualifying Pace

INDIANAPOLIS – To put what Rinus VeeKay did in Saturday’s first round of qualifications for the 106th Indianapolis 500 into perspective, consider this: He is just 21 years old.

The four-lap average he ran of 233.655 miles per hour in the No. 21 BitNile BitCoin Chevrolet in Saturday’s qualifications was the third fastest speed in Indianapolis 500 history.

The only two that are faster are Arie Luyendyk’s record speed of 236.986 four-lap average in 1996 and Scott Brayton’s four-lap average of 233.718 mph, also in 1996.

It knocked Tony Stewart’s four-lap average of 233.100 mph, also in 1996, out of third place.

The last time a four-lap average was run at that speed was four years before VeeKay was even born.

“Those are historic numbers, and I think we bumped a lot of guys out of those charts today,” VeeKay said. “Everyone out there, I think, 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.

“It felt pretty fast, yes, but it was definitely — I was very pleased with that. Also, very cool stat to hear. 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.”

The fast speed also assured that VeeKay didn’t have to make another attempt because he was safely in the “Fast 12” for Sunday.

“I remember in 2020 and 2021, especially 2020 that it was pretty nerve-wracking to just sit around all day waiting and seeing if someone is going to improve,” he recalled. “This really made my day.”

The session was supposed to run until 5:50 p.m. Eastern Time, but heavy rain forced IndyCar officials to call it an official session at 4:49 p.m.

Third-year NTT IndyCar Series driver Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing is the fastest provisional qualifier and the “Fast 12” that will determine Sunday’s pole and first four rows have been set.

The Fast 12 is set for Sunday at 4 p.m. Eastern Time and will be televised on NBC.

“Well, it’s hard to say, of course, what the conditions do,” VeeKay said of Sunday. “I was, myself, pretty impressed with that 234.7. That was a surprise. Pleasant surprise.

“I think it’s a good job to get into the Fast 12 and a shot to race for the pole tomorrow.”

The fast 12 includes VeeKay and his four-lap average of 233.655 mph in the No. 21 Chevrolet, O’Ward’s 233.037 mph in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Felix Rosenqvist’s 232.775 mph in the No. 7 Chevrolet, Alex Palou’s 232.774 mph in the No. 10 Honda, Tony Kanaan’s 232.625 mph in the No. 1 Honda, Jimmie Johnson’s 232.398 mph in the No. 48 Honda, Ed Carpenter’s No. 33 Chevrolet at 232.397 mph, Marcus Ericsson’s four-lap average of 232.275 mph in the No, 8 Honda, Romain Grosjean’s 232.201 mph in the No. 28 Honda, Scott Dixon’s four-lap run at 232.151 mph in the No. 9 Honda, Will Power’s 231.842 mph in the No. 12 Chevrolet and Takuma Sato’s No. 51 Honda at 231.708 mph for a four-lap average.

Also, positions 13-33 have been locked into the starting lineup for the May 29, Indianapolis 500.

Juan Pablo Montoya was not allowed to qualify on the first run because his car failed technical inspection. He did make a four-lap attempt after all drivers made their one qualification attempt.

Takuma Sato’s No. 51 Honda had its speed disallowed after he failed to get off the track by exiting on the pit entry lane instead of coming back around on the race course itself. IndyCar officials wiped away Sato’s time and he also had to re-qualify.

All 33 drivers were able to make qualifications attempts and the complicated procedure for this year’s Indianapolis 500 moves on to the next round on Sunday.

Chip Ganassi Racing was able to put all five of its drivers into the Fast 12, a very impressive accomplishment.

“Not to just state the obvious, but it’s pretty awesome,” Johnson said. “Just so thankful to be a part of the group. Watching them prepare literally since they left here last year and continually thinking of this race and it being a motto to win here before the championship.

“It’s even written in the race shop. The first goal is to win the Indianapolis 500 and then the championship. To be a part of it, to live it, to now be here experiencing it is really cool.”

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