Rinus VeeKay To Start 25th After Engine Change Penalty
After a full day of on-track activity, preparations are complete for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Portland. Conor Daly narrowly missed advancing in today’s qualification session and will start 16th tomorrow. For Rinus VeeKay, it will his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at Portland International Raceway. He will start 25th due to a grid penalty for an unapproved engine change.
The Grand Prix of Portland was condensed to two days for the 2021 event, beginning with a one hour, 15 minute practice session at 9 a.m. PT this morning. Portland International Raceway is relatively short circuit, with the road course coming in at just under 2 miles in length. With 27 cars entered in this weekend’s Grand Prix of Portland, finding open track to set a quick time proved difficult. VeeKay turned his first laps at Portland since an evaluation test with Ed Carpenter Racing back in 2019. Over 34 laps, his fastest was 59.31 seconds in the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet. Daly was also back on the 12-turn track for the first time since 2019, setting 34 laps with a fastest of 59.54 seconds.
The ECR teammates were assigned to Round 1, Group 2 of today’s qualifying session which took place just past noon. VeeKay and Daly had 10 minutes to build upon what they learned in practice. They first took to the circuit on sets of black Firestone Firehawks before switching to a set of sticker red Firehawks. After they had completed eight total laps, Daly’s No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet was 8th on the scoring sheets with a lap of 59:10 and VeeKay was 11th at 59:19. As only the fastest six cars advance, neither moved on to Round 2. Additionally, VeeKay will start 25th in tomorrow’s race due to a starting grid penalty for an unapproved engine change.
A final practice took place this afternoon from 3:15-3:45 p.m. and served as the warm-up session. Live coverage of the 2021 Grand Prix of Portland will begin at 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET) on NBC. The 110-lap race is scheduled to begin at 12:42 p.m. PT (3:42 p.m. ET) on Sunday, September 12.
“We were just trying to nail the perfect lap. I tried to carry a hair too much speed and got a bit too much curb on the last corner. It’s a shame, I made a mistake. The team gave me a great car, which was awesome. We are still not in a terrible spot, we have [Will] Power and [Josef] Newgarden around us and they are obviously trustworthy human beings! The goal now is to make the U.S. Air Force proud on this very important weekend.”
“I was happy with how the car felt in qualifying. I was actually confused as to why we were so far down the order! I asked the team for a certain feeling in the car and got exactly what I wanted. It was weird, but it is so close and competitive. We can battle our way forward, many things can happen here!”