VeeKay denies Grosjean for first IndyCar win at Indianapolis

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A first-time race winner has been crowned for the third time this season, with a fifth different winner in as many races in the 2021 IndyCar series – as 20-year old Rinus VeeKay claimed his first career victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, winning the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Saturday ahead of pole-winner Romain Grosjean.

Grosjean led the field away from the front row, leading 44 laps in the first half of the race and surpassing his 10-year career total of laps led in Formula 1. But it was following the second window of pit stops where VeeKay, who started seventh, asserted himself at the front of the field. VeeKay made his second pit stop on lap 36, undercutting Grosjean by seven laps.

With his used set of alternate compound tyres up to temperature, and with Grosjean losing time having to work much harder to put the likes of Takuma Sato a lap down than he’d have liked, Veekay was easily able to find his way past Grosjean to take the race lead for the first time on lap 49. Stringing together three blistering stints on the red sidewall tyres, VeeKay never looked back, claiming his first career victory by a margin of 4.95 seconds.

Grosjean took pole and led more than half the race
With this victory, Ed Carpenter Racing claims their first victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and ends a win-less drought of nearly five years since Josef Newgarden triumphed for them at Iowa Speedway in 2016. VeeKay becomes only the third driver from the Netherlands to win in IndyCar, succeeding Arie Luyendyk, and Robert Doornbos, the most recent Dutch IndyCar winner – back at the 2007 Champ Car Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant.

Grosjean had to settle for a second-place finish, the first podium of his young IndyCar career. This marks Grosjean’s best result in single-seaters since finishing second in the 2013 United States Grand Prix, and his first podium since the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix.

Barber Motorsports Park winner Álex Palou finished in third, scoring his third career podium and his second of the season, ahead of Newgarden in fourth. Graham Rahal completed the top five in a fine recovery drive, after suffering minor damage in a lap one, turn one incident that brought out the only full-course caution of the race when Conor Daly was left stranded in the grass. Daly, who started sixth, retired after 50 laps due to damage sustained from contact with Simon Pagenaud.

Rinus Veekay, Carpenter, IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2021
Carpenter claimed their first win for five years
It was also a bitter day for Jack Harvey, who was Grosjean’s closest challenger early in the race – until a burst tyre and a subsequent drive-through penalty relegated him to a 23rd place result.

Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi, rookie Scott McLaughlin, Scott Dixon, and Marcus Ericsson completed the top ten finishers in order, with Dixon maintaining his lead in the championship standings by 13 points going into time trials for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 in two weeks’ time. Palou holds second in the points, ahead of Newgarden in third, Patricio O’Ward – who finished in 15th today – holding onto fourth in the table, Rahal in fifth, and with his maiden victory, VeeKay moves up five positions into sixth in the table.

Making his first IndyCar start in four years with McLaren SP, Juan Pablo Montoya finished in 21st place, one lap down, three places ahead of seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who finished 24th.

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Race result

PositionDriverLaps
1Rinus Veekay85
2Romain Grosjean85
3Alex Palou85
4Josef Newgarden85
5Graham Rahal85
6Simon Pagenaud85
7Alexander Rossi85
8Scott McLaughlin85
9Scott Dixon85
10Marcus Ericsson85
11Will Power85
12Ryan Hunter-Reay85
13Colton Herta85
14Ed Jones85
15Patricio O’Ward85
16Takuma Sato85
17Felix Rosenqvist85
18James Hinchcliffe85
19Sebastien Bourdais84
20Dalton Kellett84
21Juan Pablo Montoya84
22Charlie Kimball84
23Jack Harvey84
24Jimmie Johnson84
25Conor Daly50

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Drivers championship top 10

PositionDriverTotal
1Scott Dixon176
2Alex Palou163
3Josef Newgarden148
4Patricio O’Ward146
5Graham Rahal137
6Rinus VeeKay135
7Simon Pagenaud130
8Scott McLaughlin123
9Will Power118
10Colton Herta117

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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  • 22 comments on “VeeKay denies Grosjean for first IndyCar win at Indianapolis”

    1. What a time for Dutch motorsport this is. Two young guys winning in F1 and Indycar.

      Amazing job from Rinus!!

      1. W.m. Bravenboer
        15th May 2021, 22:51

        Did you notice the date? Five years ago another young dutch guy won also his first race!

        1. Yeah I noticed. A lovey coincidence

      2. I also would like to add here that Robin Frijns and Nyck de Vries are currently topping the Formula-E drivers’ standings.

    2. Jockey Ewing
      15th May 2021, 22:24

      Congrats to VeeKay and Grosjean! And Montoya was there too, wow. The field is quite international and strong now, it is cool.

      1. Yes, i noticed it was a European podium.
        Not sure how well that’ll be received if it keeps happening.

        1. Mark in Florida
          16th May 2021, 15:48

          @johnnik Most Indy car fans don’t mind at all. Scott Dixon, Will Power, Dan Weldon etc. have been winning races for years and nobody booed them for winning. In Indy racing if you win its generally because you were the better driver. Strategy is important of course but its still the driver who has to get it there. You can’t blame serial winning on a car. Its the driver and we appreciate great drivers who can overcome the odds and adversity to win against the likes of the more established teams. In Indy anything is possible, I believe that’s why Grosean feels excited to be driving again.

          1. Most fans don’t mind but the influx of non-American talent into CART in the early-1990s was one of the major causes of the second open-wheel ‘split’. Tony George, who owned Indianapolis, felt CART had become too ‘un-American’ and started his own series (the Indy Racing League) that ended up beating CART (which went bankrupt twice) leading to a merger in 2008.

    3. Romain is doing much better in the Indy Dallara than his F1 Dallara.

    4. How do the points work in indycar. Those points are huge for just 4 races

      1. @broke1984

        They award points to the top 33 (the max they allow in any race I believe, but definitely the max for the Indy 500), on a scale like this:
        50-40-35-32-30-28-26-24-22-20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6 and then 5 for everyone from 25th-33rd.

        They also give 1 point if you lead a lap (only ever 1, no matter how many you lead), 2 points for leading the most laps of the field, and 1 point for pole position.

      2. Jockey Ewing
        16th May 2021, 11:54

        https://www.indycar.com/Fan-Info/INDYCAR-101/Points-System
        Awarding points to the lowest ranks, imo it is more expressive, if you only have alittle time to look at the less prominent entrants results, or historic results, so partially I like it. Although doing so woul break tradidion at F1, an important tradition, that scoring the first points for a driver, or scoring as a small team is or often was a big thing.

        The other thing that I don’t like in F1’s current points system, that imo it is too flat (not so head heavy), so if there would be no Lewis Hamilton, it would be much easier to score a championship title via having 2rd and 3rd placements, as 2rd and 3rd placement awards quite alot of points compared to the lower ranks and compared to the 1st placement as well.
        And if we look to the lower half of the top ten: the points are not incremented via the same multiplier, some gaps are bigger, some are smaller, that is a bit uneven. But that is hard to solve if we do not want to have non-integer points, or do not want to have a format which awards more points to achieve a head heavy scoring system, which has much less uneven gaps for scores of placements which are close to easch other. Indy’s points system partially solved that.

        There are double points at Indy500 (although idk if it will be the case, now because the calendars are shrunken due to covid). Ther are bonous points for pole, leading a lap, leading most laps.

        1. I think the good thing about the Indy points system is it means you are still fighting for points throughout the field. You may have a small amount of damage or something that in F1 would mean you might retire to try and get a new gearbox or something, but in Indy, you could still be fighting for 5-10 points that could make all the difference come season’s end.

          But I agree that points for all drivers would break tradition in F1 and mess with the statistics (although the latter is not the end of the world, they’re messed up enough already). I would like to see it in something like F3 though where they have 30 cars battling for 10 points positions.

        2. Jockey Ewing F1’s points system is more head heavy than Indycar as far as the top placings go. 2nd compared to 1st has a ratio of 80% in Indycar, but only 72% in F1. So it would be easier to win Indycar without winning any (or many) races, than it would be in F1.

          1. Jockey Ewing
            16th May 2021, 21:32

            Yes, you are right. I have problem with low head heaviness at lower ranks, so I would award more points (and points for more participants), to have more even gaps and more distinct gaps there too. But this is a bit hard to solve, and keep the traditions’ integrity at the same time.
            Yes, as I checked the RaceFans points system converter linked above, I came to the conclusion, that Indy’s point system is still quite flat.

            1. Jockey Ewing
              16th May 2021, 21:34

              Funny to say above, if the link is right below :)

      3. @broke1984

        This site actually has a points calculator to convert points across different series. The names are a couple of years outdated but it doesn’t matter much.

        https://www.racefans.net/points-calculator/

    5. I watched all the races so far, and am really trying to like it. A few things I can’t stand though…
      One, the commentary silence every few minutes as the Americans have yet another advert break.
      Two, the cars are fugly. Hideous.
      Three, the result is far too random. It never feels like the best team/driver combination wins, somehow. Too many cautions and a weird points system makes it very tight but it all feels contrived and fake.
      Four, their idea of safety is funny. A pick up towing a race car on the track as other cars go by under safety car.

      There are some things I like. I like the 200 seconds of push to pass much more than DRS. I like watching paint dry more than DRS, though.
      I like the size of the field.
      I like the frenetic pit stop periods – but it feels like someone could die in there, which I don’t like.

      In general, I find it quite dull – it just seems over hyped and contrived. And that annoys me, I really want to like it to have a top category to watch when there’s no F1.

      1. If Sky do it the same as they did last year, you may be in luck for the Indy 500 on the 30th May. Last year Sky hired their own commentators to do the bits in the ad breaks (I think Alex Jacques was one of them), and used the US comms for the rest. It seemed to work quite well.

        I think they are in the process of designing a new car for the series. The current chassis is from 2018, but that was more of an upgrade to the DW12 than a full car refresh, and it had the aeroscreen-halo combination bolted onto a car it wasn’t really designed for (but it has proven very effective so you have to give them that). I reckon they’ll be able to improve the aesthetics significantly if they can implement the aeroscreen better for the next generation of cars.

        In terms of cautions, I think Indy could really do with some kind of FCY/VSC system that most other championships have now implemented. I agree that using full SC cautions does make it seem a bit artificial, but there are no other alternatives for them at the minute, especially when, as you note, the safety measures usually involve pick ups towing cars around (which is much more normal in American motorsports from what I can tell).

        But yeah, I think a few tweaks and the series has the potential to be great. It will be interesting to see what Roger Penske tries to do with the series now he’s in control.

      2. pastaman (@)
        16th May 2021, 13:58

        Doesn’t sound like you are trying to like it, since your “cons” are mostly subjective.

        1. What difference does that make if they are subjective? Not liking something is purely subjective no?

      3. I find the ovals utterly dull. It’s like long-distance running or cycling. The lead guy isn’t leading, just toeing the line for a bit. It’s usually close finishes, but that just means you can tunes out and come back for the last few laps. I like the pit stops since, which while they look dangerous, you not involving a team of around 20 people. I see far more danger in F1, despite added precautions.

        The road circuits are much better since following the car in front appears to be much easier.

        But I only dip into Indy now and again.

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