ED CARPENTER RACING EXCITED TO BEGIN 2020 SEASON IN THE STREETS OF ST. PETERSBURG
Rinus VeeKay to Make NTT INDYCAR SERIES Debut; Firestone Grand Prix Marks First Race Weekend for Conor Daly and the U.S. Air Force With ECR
(INDIANAPOLIS) March 10, 2020 – Preview Notes
– After six months of preparation, Ed Carpenter Racing is ready for the beginning of a new NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Featuring a new driver lineup for 2020, the Indianapolis-based race team is excited for the arrival of the first race weekend of the year. ECR’s full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet, 19-year-old Rinus VeeKay, will make his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut this weekend. The team has also welcomed Conor Daly and the U.S. Air Force Chevrolet to the No. 20 Chevrolet for the 12 road and street course events, beginning with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet: “I have always loved St. Pete, it is such a great event to kick off the season! I was able to win in Indy Pro 2000 back in 2010, which was my first time racing on the INDYCAR stage. I led laps there in 2016 as an NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie as well, so this race has always meant a lot to me. I am more than ready to get down to work with Ed Carpenter Racing! The U.S. Air Force machine looks absolutely incredible and it is fantastic to get to debut it in the first race of the year. I’m just very excited to get the 2020 season going!”
– Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 entry is split between team owner Ed Carpenter on the ovals and second driver for the road and street course events. This season, the No. 20 will feature an all-Hoosier lineup as both Carpenter and Daly are from Indiana. Carpenter, an Indianapolis native, will be driving in his 18th year of Indy car competition. The 39-year-old’s season will open with the Indianapolis 500, the first oval race on the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season calendar. Daly, from Noblesville, joins ECR with 50 races of experience spanning six years. In addition to competing in the 12 road and street course events, 28-year-old Daly will also be entered in the Indianapolis 500 as ECR expands to a three-car lineup. As Carpenter will race the No. 20 in the “500,” Daly’s entry for Memorial Day weekend will feature a new number and a special edition livery.
– The U.S. Air Force will continue a partnership with Daly that originated three years ago. Beginning with the Indianapolis 500 in 2018, the program expanded to include the 2019 “500” and the season finale. Daly will now race a U.S. Air Force Chevrolet in 13 of 17 NTT IndyCar Series races in 2020. Historical U.S. Air Force components were woven together to create the No. 20’s striking livery for the road and street course events. Returning is the recognizable Tiger Shark teeth war paint, often carried into battle by the A-10 Thunderbolt and the P-40 Warhawk. Each location where the bodywork of Daly’s car comes together is marked with rivet detailing, a tribute to the P-51 Mustang. A lightning bolt featured on the rear wing end fence is a nod to the Air Force Academy. The red and white striping is reminiscent of the tail flashes seen on aircrafts of the United States Army Air Corps, the aerial warfare service component of the United States Army prior to the creation of what is today’s U.S. Air Force.
– Daly climbed into a kart for the first time at the age of 10. Within five years he was competing in both United States and international open-wheel ladder systems. After finding success in each, he made the decision to concentrate solely on American motorsports in 2015. Full-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES seasons followed in 2016 and 2017 and he supplemented his 2018 and 2019 Indianapolis 500 appearances by becoming one of the most trusted reserve drivers in the paddock. In the past two seasons, five different teams called upon Daly for 11 different race weekends. He also used 2019 to continuously sharpen his skills by racing in additional disciplines. Daly became a three-time race winner in Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America, earned a third-place finish in the Super Trofeo World Finals in Spain and added more dirt track experience. In January of 2020, he competed in his second Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX/Autogeek Chevrolet: “I’m super excited for St. Pete! I have trouble going to sleep at night because I know it’s race week! I am counting down the seconds. I’m finally going to be an NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver! I feel the preparation the team has given me is some of the best among all drivers, especially the rookies, heading into the season. I have had many tests, learned a lot already and now I’m ready to race at the front of the field!”
– Years of preparation will culminate this weekend as VeeKay competes in his very first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race. Born in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, Rinus van Kalmthout began karting in 2009 at the age of 8. With sights set firmly on the pinnacle of North American open wheel racing, he transitioned to the Road to Indy in 2017 and launched his U.S. career driving as Rinus VeeKay. The young Dutch driver got his first taste of an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car last August when Carpenter selected him for an evaluation test at Portland International Raceway. A second successful test followed at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October, confirming VeeKay’s compatibility with the team. In late November, VeeKay was named as the ECR’s full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet for the 2020 season.
– ECR’s No. 21 Chevrolet has always featured an Indy Lights graduate, a trend that will continue with VeeKay. He found immediate success in the Road to Indy, following up a second-place finish in the 2017 USF2000 standings with the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 title. His championship season included seven wins, 10 podium finishes and the Road to Indy career advancement scholarship. For the 2019 Indy Lights season, VeeKay claimed six race wins and finished on the podium 14 of 18 times en route to a runner-up finish in the standings. In all, the Dutch teenager earned 16 Road to Indy victories and 36 podium finishes in just 48 races.
– VeeKay’s No. 21 sports a new look for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, carrying the colors of both Autogeek.com and SONAX USA. This year will be the third in a row that Florida-based Autogeek.com has been featured on the No. 21 in the season-opening race. Over the last 15 years, the car care superstore has risen to become one of the most reputable and trusted sources for automotive detailing products and accessories. As one of the United States’ largest distributors of European-made car care products, Autogeek.com was chosen by SONAX USA to be one of a few select U.S. retailers. Made in Germany, SONAX is a market leader in car care products, offering a highly competitive and extensive range of products for the cleaning and care of vehicles.
ED CARPENTER RACING
– Though Daly and VeeKay are both in their first season with ECR, leadership across Ed Carpenter Racing remains consistent. The team is led by Carpenter, the only individual in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES that handles both the responsibility of driving a race car and owning his own team. Day-to-day operations are under the direction of General Manager Tim Broyles and chief mechanic Bret Schmitt. The No. 21 is led by ECR chief engineer Matt Barnes as VeeKay’s lead engineer and Jeff Frederick as crew chief. Peter Craik will be the lead engineer on the No. 20 while Nick Cooper serves as crew chief, both in their second year in those positions. Strategists continue to be Brent “Woody” Harvey for VeeKay and Broyles for the No. 20 car, a position he has held since ECR’s first race in 2012. Nearly a dozen of the team’s 40 employees are original hires, including Broyles, Schmitt, Barnes and Harvey.
– VeeKay climbed into his No. 21 for the first time in early January as ECR embarked on an extensive testing plan to get the rookie up to speed. In the past two months, he has been on track at Sebring International Raceway, Circuit of the Americas and Texas Motor Speedway. Daly joined VeeKay at Circuit of the Americas for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES spring training and in a second test day at Sebring. Additionally, both have spent multiple days doing simulator work in preparation for the 2020 season.
FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG
– Not only are Daly and VeeKay familiar with the 1.8-mile, 14-turn circuit, both have won races in the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. VeeKay competed in six Road to Indy races on the downtown street circuit, scoring five podiums and three wins. Daly won from the pole in the 2010 Indy Pro 2000 event, his very first Road to Indy start. He has competed in two previous Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg events, leading the race as a rookie in 2016.
– Practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will take place on Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14, followed by qualifications on Saturday afternoon. Live streaming of all practice and qualifying sessions will be available through INDYCAR Pass via NBC Sports Gold. The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series will officially begin at 3:23 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 15 at the drop of the green flag for the 100-lap race. Live coverage will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.