VeeKay: “Perfect” Carpenter cars “suit Chevy powerband”

Rinus VeeKay says Ed Carpenter Racing's cars fared well in qualifying for IndyCar's Indianapolis 500 because they’re set up to handle the way the Chevrolet engine delivers its power.

VeeKay: “Perfect” Carpenter cars “suit Chevy powerband”

The Ilmor-built Chevrolet units were blamed for an apparent underperformance on Fast Friday when the BorgWarner turbos are turned up from 1.3-bar race boost to 1.5-bar qualifying boost, particularly when Team Penske proved to be mediocre on the speed charts.

But ECR in particular appeared to show this was a myth, when both VeeKay and team owner/driver Ed Carpenter made it through to the Fast Nine.

Then in the shootout for pole, both VeeKay and Carpenter turned 232mph opening laps and fell less than 0.2mph short of Scott Dixon's pole effort. They will start the Indy 500 from third and fourth on the grid with Dutchman Veekay, the winner of last week's Indy GP on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, sharing the front row with Andretti Autosport's Colton Herta.

Asked why the ECR cars excelled when the next highest Chevrolet cars – the Arrow McLaren SPs of Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist – will start 12th and 14th, VeeKay replied: “I think our car really suits the Chevy powerband. The team just puts a lot of work in it.

“It was super close with Ed, very close. I did beat my boss, which is pretty cool!

“It was very tough out there, I gave it everything I had and just missed out a little bit on Scott and Colton.

“I'm very happy. This feels like a win, like a pole for us.

“I told the team, my engineer Matt Barnes, ‘If you trim out, please do not tell me. If you're going to make the car any sketchier, just don't tell me. I'm going to stay flat no matter what.’ They did not trim, but yeah, it was on the limit. Really a perfect car…

Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images

“The four laps I did was on the limit. I couldn't have gone any faster really.

“I had a big moment in the last lap, first corner [but] kept it on track, kept it flat. 

“If I think back about it, I should have lifted [T1, Lap 4] but I didn't. I'm very happy, I think that's all I could do.”

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In his rookie campaign last year, VeeKay qualified fourth as the only Chevrolet in the Fast Nine. When asked how different the two runs were, he replied: “We're quicker this year, it was quite a bit different.

“There was a big, big temperature change between yesterday and today's run. It's way hotter but I had the confidence that the car was going to be very stuck.

“Last year the four laps were quite easy, like there was no loose moments or understeer. Right now I did my first lap and it was already quite neutral. Then the last lap, Turn 1, I don't know why I stayed flat, but I did it. 

“It was definitely very hard but I think that even made the car faster. We were just so on the limit, it was perfect for me.”

VeeKay said he is also confident about his pace in race trim and his fuel mileage.

“I definitely feel very good,” he said.

“We have a very strong car, especially in race trim we're very strong. I think also the Chevy power is great in race trim, very excited for that.

Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images

“I'm just very happy with how the car behaved. All the work from the team was very, very good.

“We have a very strong qualifying car, but also in race trim, especially with only two cars in front of me, it's going to be very good. I'm very excited to give it everything next week.

“We tried [fuel consumption] last week when we had all these race trim runs. I tried to run out front, tried some different fuel maps to see what pace I could be at to lead and not be passed, or follow another car without him pulling away.

“We felt really good with saving fuel.

“I don't know what the strategy is going to be for the race. I feel good while pushing 100%, but I also feel good while saving fuel and being conservative.

“I think we really can give a big hit for the win for the 500.”

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