By: Spencer Neff
May 15, 2021
On Saturday, the first NTT INDYCAR SERIES event of the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway took place.
The 2021 GMR Grand Prix took place, marking the fifth race of the season. Here’s a recap of the day’s events.
Rinus VeeKay scores first win
After a whirlwind 12 months, Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay earned his first career victory during Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix. In his 19th career start, the sophomore driver held off Dale Coyne Racing with RWR’s Romain Grosjean by 4.951 seconds to win.
In doing so, he became the first driver to win at all three levels of the Road to Indy (Lights, Indy Pro and USF2000).
The Hoofddorp, Netherlands native joins Arie Luyendyk and Robert Doornbos as Dutch IndyCar winners. VeeKay also becomes the third first-time winner in 2021 (Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward). This is the first time a race on the IMS Road Course has produced a first-time winner in ten events, dating back to 2014.
His team, Ed Carpenter Racing earns their eighth win as a team and first since Iowa Speedway in 2016 (Josef Newgarden). They become the fourth team to win at the IMS Road Course, joining Ganassi, Penske and Arrow McLaren SP (Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports at the time).
Early on, Grosjean pulled away from the field after earning his first career pole position. The start did feature action behind him, however. As multiple drivers went off-course, Ed Carpenter Racing’s Conor Daly stalled in Turn 2, forcing the caution flag to come before a single lap had been completed.
After falling back as they made repairs in the garage for what was described as an electrical issue, Daly’s team returned to the track for a brief period. Ultimately, the No. 20 fell out of the race after 50 laps, finishing 25th.
During the yellow, tire strategy began to unfold, as teams looked to gain an advantage by switching to the alternate Firestone tire.
Chief among those drivers was points leader Scott Dixon, as the Chip Ganassi Racing driver pitted after starting 16th. Dixon was one of 17 drivers in the 25-car field to start on the primary tires.
Following the Lap 4 restart, Grosjean’s lead continued to balloon to nearly 10 seconds. As the race continued unabated by another caution, Grosjean’s advantage diminished with the switch to primary tires after leading 44 laps.
VeeKay took the lead for the first time on Lap 48, the first time another driver had led outside of the pit stop cycles.
By Lap 65, he grabbed the lead back and pulled away, securing the victory. Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing rounded out the podium. By finishing 10th,, Dixon maintains a lead of 13 in the points standings, with Palou making it a CGR 1-2.
VeeKay leads morning warmup
On Friday afternoon, Rinus VeeKay just missed out on the Fast Six, qualifying seventh, .0348 of a second short of advancing.
In Saturday’s morning warmup, the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing team showed their pace for the 85-lap event (1m10.5598-124.439 mph), .0326 of a second ahead of Alex Palou.
With the Grand Prix weekend completed, the focus turns to the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
Opening Practice begins on Tuesday, with oval veterans taking to the 2.5-mile oval at 10 a.m. Eastern.
Keep tabs on this weekend’s action with IndyCar1909.com and our social media platforms, listed at the bottom of our webpage.
Header Image By Doug Mathews/INDYCAR