CONOR DALY QUALIFIES IN THE TOP 10 AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK
U.S. Air Force Driver Will Start 10th; Rinus VeeKay Qualifies 14th For NTT INDYCAR SERIES Season Opener
(LEEDS, Ala.) April 17, 2021 – Qualifying Notes
– Ed Carpenter Racing’s starting positions are set for the first race of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Tomorrow afternoon, Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay will take on the picturesque 2.38-mile road course of Barber Motorsports Park. Daly advanced to the second round of this evening’s qualifications and will roll off 10th for the 90-lap race. VeeKay will start his second season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition from the 14th on the grid.
– This year, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is a two-day event for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Two practice sessions preceded today’s qualifying, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. VeeKay, who has not yet participated in an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at Barber Motorsports Park, completed 31 laps in his No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet. Daly will be racing at Barber for the first time since 2017 and posted a Top 10 lap time in the second session.
– Road course qualifying consists of three rounds which progressively narrow the field to determine the pole winner. Round 1 is split into two groups, determined by the best lap of each driver in the preceding practice session. Daly and VeeKay were both assigned to Round 1, Group 2. Both began on a set of sticker black Firestone Firehawks, but were back in the pit lane in less than three minutes under red flag conditions. With only five minutes of guaranteed green track time, both opted to switch to sticker red Firehawks when the course reopened.
– VeeKay turned a lap of 124.554 miles per hour on reds, his fastest of the day. He missed advancing to the second round by a mere 0.048 of a second and will start tomorrow’s race from 14th on the grid. Once on red tires, Daly quickly secured his position in Round 2 with a lap of 125.258 miles per hour. He was third when the checkered flag flew, assuring that he would start no worse than 12th.
– The fastest six drivers from both rounds advanced to the next 10-minute session. Daly stayed with the same strategy as the previous round, starting on black Firehawks before switching to the faster red tires. He turned six laps in the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, saving his best for last. His top speed of the weekend improved even more with a lap of 125.622 miles per hour. It would land him 10th on the grid, his best starting position at Barber Motorsports Park.
– Now with 250 race starts, 2021 will mark Ed Carpenter Racing’s 10th season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition. ECR began as a single-car organization in 2012, expanding to two full-time entries in 2015. For the first time since having multiple entries, the team will enjoy the continuity of having the same driver lineup from the previous season. Daly will drive the No. 20 Chevrolet for the road and street course events, handing the car over to team owner Ed Carpenter for the oval races. VeeKay remains the team’s full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet. The trio will again make up ECR’s three-car lineup in the Indianapolis 500.
– The first race day of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will begin with a warm-up session at 11:30 a.m. ET (10:30 a.m. local). The season will officially begin at 3:42 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 18 at the drop of the green flag. Live coverage will begin at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.
CONOR DALY, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet: “To start the season right and qualify 10th at a true driver’s track makes me very proud of this U.S. Air Force team and Chevrolet. I’ve really been working this offseason to get my mind right and we’ve also improved a lot as a team. It’s exciting to be in the Top 10, it’s a good place to be! We have some work to do, we always want to go faster, but this race can be really interesting and we’ll see what happens.”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet: “We had a good pace in practice, but couldn’t quite show it in qualifying. I saw a cloud of dirt and maybe took it five percent easier, but that was probably the tenth I was missing! Just came up a little short, but I am glad Conor (Daly) advanced. It is very tough out there, but we will have a good car tomorrow. Ed Carpenter Racing is known for great strategy so I’m not worried all!”
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