QUALIFYING NOTES: BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland
13th: RINUS VEEKAY No. 21 BITNILE.COM
25th: RYAN HUNTER-REAY No. 20 BITNILE.COM
RACE: BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland
TRACK: Portland International Raceway
LOCATION: Portland, Oregon, USA
TRACK LAYOUT: 12-turn, 1.964-mile natural road course
RACE LENGTH: 110 Laps/216.04 Miles
BROADCAST: Sunday – 12 p.m. PT (NBC)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 20 BITNILE.COM CHEVROLET
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, No. 20 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet, Starting 25th: “The car definitely felt better in qualifying. The field is super close, but we are on the wrong side of about three-tenths. The team made good changes to the car and I was pretty happy with it. It’s just a matter of consistency through Turns 1 and 2. I can’t get through there without constantly having to save the rear of the car over the curbs. We’ll have to take a look at that. Unfortunately, we have a six-spot penalty for an engine change, so that’s going to put us in the back. We are hoping for a good showing for BitNile here at the BITNILE.COM Grand Prix!” Photo Courtesy of INDYCAR Photo
• In this afternoon’s qualifying session at Portland International Raceway, Ryan Hunter-Reay turned the 10th-fastest lap in Round 1, Group 1. However, he will receive a six-position starting grid penalty for an unapproved engine change following last Sunday’s race at World Wide Technology Raceway. If a full-season entry in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has to utilize a fifth engine during the season, it is considered an unapproved engine change out. Thus, Hunter-Reay will start 25th in tomorrow’s BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland.
• Hunter-Reay’s history at Portland International Raceway dates back farther than almost every driver in this weekend’s field. He competed in his first top-level open wheel racing event in Portland in 2003, which was then part of the Champ Car World Series calendar. When the NTT INDYCAR SERIES returned to Portland in 2018, Hunter-Reay leaned into his prior experience at the circuit and qualified 5th. He went on to finish 2nd, missing the top step of the podium by only six-tenths of second.
• Hunter-Reay joined Ed Carpenter Racing as driver of the No. 20 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet prior to the Road America race weekend in June. Hunter-Reay, recognized as one of the most successful American open wheel racing drivers, has brought a wealth of experience to the team with an INDYCAR career that spans two decades. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based driver is an NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion (2012) with 18 career wins, including a victory in the 2014 Indianapolis 500.
RINUS VEEKAY, NO. 21 BITNILE.COM CHEVROLET
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet, Qualified 13th: “I lost three-tenths in Turns 2 and 3. Every time I went through there, I got a huge snap and couldn’t get back to power. I am really upset about this. I should have been in the Fast 6, not kicked out of the Top 12. I am happy I get a night of sleep before the race. It’s really hard to accept. There is a lot more we could have done and we should have advanced. On to tomorrow.”
• Rinus VeeKay’s weekend at Portland International Raceway was off to a strong start as he was solidly within the Top 10 fastest drivers in both practice season preceding qualifying. VeeKay turned the 8th-fastest lap in Practice 1 yesterday afternoon, following that up with the 6th-fastest lap in Practice 2 this morning. In qualifications, he finished 7th in Round 1, Group 1. As only the top six cars advance, VeeKay would not move on to Round 2. He will start 13th in the BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland.
• Though VeeKay has only competed in two NTT INDYCAR SERIES races at Portland International Raceway, his history with ECR at the track goes back to the beginning of his career. In August of 2019, ECR selected VeeKay for an evaluation test at Portland. It was the first of two successful tests before he was named full-time driver of the team’s No. 21 Chevrolet prior to the 2020 season. In the 2021 Grand Prix of Portland, his first at the track, he gained an astonishing 16 positions on the opening lap. Last year, he finished 20th after serving a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact late in the race.
• 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. He now has over 60 career starts, each of which have been with Ed Carpenter Racing. The 22-year-old is ECR’s longest-tenured full-time driver, now in his fourth season behind the wheel the No. 21 Chevrolet. Earlier this year, he qualified on the front row of the Indianapolis 500 for the third consecutive time and was the fastest Chevrolet-powered driver in the field for the fourth year in row.
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