Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus Veekay or Rinus Van Kalmthout came into the NTT IndyCar Series in 2020 as a rookie and following a whirlwind trip from Europe to the United States via Mexico due to COVID 19 he made his series debut in the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Veekay had a great season, scoring three top five finishes during the 14 race season including a third place finish in the Harvest Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, a race which saw him take his first NTT P1 Award.

Veekay claimed the NTT IndyCar Series Rookie Of The Year Award 2020 becoming the first Chevrolet powered driver to claim the prize in 30 years.

YOU’RE THE NTT INDYCAR SERIES ROOKIE OF THE YEAR NOW, ALONGSIDE ARIE LUYENDYK, NIGEL MANSELL, ALEX ZANARDI, TK (TONY KANAAN), (SCOTT) DIXON, (SEBASTIEN) BOURDAIS, AND  (ALEXANDER) ROSSI… HAS IT HIT HOME THAT YOU’RE NOW ON THAT LIST OF THOSE GUYS?
“Well, it’s pretty cool that I’m on that list now, and it seems that most of the Rookies of the Year go on to be successful in IndyCar. I’m very happy to be on the list and especially with a Chevy, which hasn’t happened in many years. So I’m very happy with that, and I cannot wait to not be a rookie next year and fight with those guys again.”
THE LAST ONE FOR CHEVY WAS 1992.
“I was minus-eight back then, so that’s pretty crazy. I had to do a video for TK, everyone had to do that and I’m like, ‘Well, I actually didn’t really know him back then.’ I met him of course, but we were not personal or friends or anything. And then I’m just like, ‘Well, Tony you’re in IndyCar since I was like, minus-two or minus-three!’”
LIMITED LAPS, NO TESTING, LIMITED PRACTICE THIS YEAR… HOW MUCH HAS HAVING THE CHEVROLET SIMULATOR AND ANY OTHER TOOL THAT CHEVY GIVES YOU HELPED YOU AT LEAST GO INTO THE WEEKEND FEELING LIKE YOU’RE SOMEWHAT PREPARED?
“The Chevy team really helps me. Of course, we spent a lot of time in the simulator on setup work, not only driving. We tried setups In the sim, and we bring them over to the race track. And it works exactly the same as in the simulator. So it’s verifiable, you can try a lot, there’s no there’s no damage or anything. So you can try everything in every way. So it’s a big advantage.”
WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT IT TRANSFERRED SO WELL TO WHEN YOU LOAD IT ON THE CAR AT THE TRACK?
“Yes. I’m was very surprised of course. I’ve driven different simulators before, but the setups were never really the same. But then the one from Chevy, it just translated the same way from the simulator to the racetrack. So very surprising, very good.”
DO YOU THINK YOU WERE MORE PREPARED THAN THE OTHER ROOKIES THIS YEAR? IS THAT MAYBE WHY YOU WON THE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR, PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY?
“Well, you never know for sure, but I think it’s definitely played a role, with the new Aeroscreen, which is very, very warm. If some guys get fatigued, and I can stay sharp then of course there is an advantage.”
WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE WORKING WITH A MANUFACTURER LIKE CHEVROLET, WHERE IN ROAD TO INDY YOU’RE JUST WITH YOUR TEAM, NOW YOU’VE GOT YOUR TEAM AND YOU’VE GOT A MANUFACTURER TO HELP YOU OUT. IS THAT HARD TO GET USED TO?
“It’s actually really nice to have Chevy with us and they really support you. When I made the Fast Nine qualifying in Indianapolis, all the Chevy engineers were there to just cheer on the other Chevy car. So it’s not like there is a rivalry. It’s just working for the brand of Chevy and making sure the brand is doing as well as possible.”
IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU’VE ENJOYED HAVING? NOW YOU’VE GOT YOUR TEAM, YOURSELF, AND A MANUFACTURER IS THAT ADDED PRESSURE?
“It doesn’t really add pressure. It’s just very nice to have different kinds of data, an extra engineer who is from Chevy and just a lot more preparation before the race.”
Veekay will continue to race for Ed Carpenter Racing in the No.21 Chevrolet for the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season which gets underway on March 7 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.

Video courtesy of Inside Track Communications via Youtube.com

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