BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Sometimes it takes just a little spark to get things back on track.
At least that’s what Ed Carpenter Racing driver Rinus Veekay is hoping for after qualifying a season-best ninth during qualifying for Sunday’s (April 30) NTT IndyCar Series Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park.
It was Veekay’s first time advancing to the Firestone Fast 12 since last season’s race at Portland, where he started 12th.
“I’m really happy,” Veekay said. “I think we maximized our effort to qualify ninth. We really made a big step forward in qualifying.”
After finishing 21st, 11th and 26th in the first three races of the season, Veekay headed into this weekend sitting 22nd in the season points. But if any track can change his fortunes, it’s Barber, where the 22-year-old from the Netherlands sat on pole last year and finished third, and in 2021 moved up to a sixth-place result after starting 14th.
Veekay said for that reason this weekend was circled on the team’s calendar, and it’s also the start of a stretch of races that have been very kind to him. Veekay won his lone IndyCar race on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021, and also has a win there in the Indy NXT series in 2019.
In his three starts at the Indy 500, he has twice qualified on the front row, and last year was running at the front when he crashed in turn 2 just short of the 100-mile mark.
“We have this race, the Indy road course, and the 500, and hopefully Detroit works out in our favor, so those are three, maybe four races we know we can win, and we know we will have good cars,” Veekay said. “This is where the change needs to happen.”
In its time in the IndyCar series, Barber has shown that to do well, track position is key. The track is just 45-feet wide, and as a result, nine of the 12 IndyCar races won here have been won by a driver in one of the top three starting positions, including last year when Alex Palou won from the second starting spot.
Will Power started ninth and won in 2012, so Veekay knows it can be done. With rain predicted overnight, drivers and teams may also be looking at another variable of a green racetrack thrown into the mix.
Veekay likes this track and likes his car, so he’s optimistic.
“You never know (what can happen),” he said. “I know my primary tires hold on well over the long runs, so I think we can do well. We just have to stay out of any messes and move forward.”
The cars will be on track for a 30-minute warmup at 12 p.m. ET and will take the green flag for the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at 3 p.m. ET, with coverage on NBC.
About the author
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.