Despite the general consensus being that Chevrolet was down on power compared with Honda when they ran 1.5-bar boost, which teams use on Fast Friday, Qualifying and the Fast Nine Shootout, VeeKay proved that a great handling car could help make up the deficit.
The #21 ECR car had looked fast and stable in dirty air during practice, allowing VeeKay to make bold maneuvers on his rivals, but it also responded well to being trimmed out for qualifying. The Dutch teenager was sixth on Saturday, behind four Andretti Autosport cars and Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing, and then on Sunday only one Andretti car – that of Marco Andretti – could outpace him, along with Dixon and Takuma Sato’s amazingly consistent Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Honda.
Thus VeeKay became the best qualifying Indy 500 rookie since 2013, when Carlos Munoz claimed second for Andretti Autosport.
“That was the most amazing qualifying, I did not expect it!” exclaimed VeeKay who is advised by two-time Indy 500 winner and IMS lap record holder Arie Luyendyk. “I was really happy to even make it to the Fast Nine.
“Being the only Chevy made it tough, but we are starting fourth! Super close to making the front row, but I’m still happy with this. And fastest rookie!
Ed [Carpenter, team owner] really helped me, telling me what the wind…