RACE PREVIEW: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey



RACE: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey
TRACK: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
LOCATION: Monterey, California, USA
TRACK LAYOUT: 11-turn, 2.238-mile natural road course
RACE LENGTH: 95 laps/212.61 miles

PRACTICE: Friday – 2:30-3:45 p.m. PT (Peacock Premium),
Saturday – 10-11 a.m. PT (Peacock Premium),
Sunday – 9-9:30 a.m. PT (Peacock Premium)
QUALIFYING: Saturday – 2-3:30 p.m. PT (Peacock Premium)
RACE: Sunday – 12:30 p.m. PT (NBC, 11:30 a.m. PT)


RYAN HUNTER-REAY, No. 20 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet: “WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has always been one of those tracks at the top of my list. Even though I really enjoyed the low-grip old surface, I look forward to the challenge ahead with the repaved surface. We’ll need to work through finding a new approach, both on car setup and from behind the wheel.”


• Ryan Hunter-Reay joined Ed Carpenter Racing midway through the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season as driver of the No. 20 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet. His debut with the team was the Road America event in June, where he gained 10 positions over the duration of the race. Throughout the duration of the season, he has utilized his wealth of experience from an INDYCAR career that spans two decades to help the team improve in all aspects. 

• Hunter-Reay’s history at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca dates back to 2003 and 2004, when he competed in Champ Car World Series races at the road course. In 2019, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES returned to Laguna Seca and Hunter-Reay was not only in the field, but advanced to the second round of qualifying and earned a Top 10 finish. He also competed in the 2021 event, where he narrowly missed out on another Top 10. 

• The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based driver is recognized as one of the most successful American open wheel racing drivers. Hunter-Reay is an NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion (2012) with 18 career wins, including a victory in the 2014 Indianapolis 500. He also has multiple overall IMSA sportscar wins, the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans among them, has been invited to the Race of Champions five times and has won two ESPY ‘Driver of the Year’ awards (2013 and 2014). 


RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet: “I am excited to go back to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca! It’s going to be very nice to be back in the car, especially coming off a weekend like we did in Portland. I love the track and I am looking forward to experiencing the repave! It’s something no one is really accustomed to yet, so it’s great that we have a day of testing as well. It’s a good time to have another good race and hopefully get a Top 5 – we were pretty close last weekend! Last race of the season, let’s make it a good one!”


Rinus VeeKay will conclude his fourth season behind the wheel of the No. 21 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet with this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. He has spent his entire NTT INDYCAR SERIES career with the team and is ECR’s longest-tenured full-time driver. Earlier this year, he qualified on the front row of the Indianapolis 500 for the third consecutive year and has now competed in over 60 races. Last weekend at Portland International Raceway, VeeKay had his best finish of the 2023 season with a 6th place. He will celebrate his 23rd birthday this coming Monday, September 11.

• VeeKay has two previous NTT INDYCAR SERIES starts at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. In 2022, VeeKay narrowly missed advancing to the second round of qualifying and started 14th. At the conclusion of the first lap, he found himself back in 25th but remained undeterred. He charged back forward and made up eight positions in only 10 laps. Prior to joining the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, VeeKay competed in the 2019 Indy Lights doubleheader (now INDY NXT) at the road course and won both races. 

• Born in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, Rinus van Kalmthout began karting in 2009 at the age of 8. With sights set firmly on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, he transitioned to the Road to Indy in 2017 and launched his U.S. career driving as Rinus VeeKay. Just four years into his time in the United States, he not only reached the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, but earned 2020 Rookie of the Year honors. He joined the ranks of NTT INDYCAR SERIES race winners in May of 2021 with a victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.


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Streets of St. Petersburg

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