Friday, June 14, 2024

QUALIFYING NOTES: Streets of Detroit

STARTING POSITIONS

13th: CHRISTIAN RASMUSSEN No. 20 GuyCare Chevrolet
18th: RINUS VEEKAY No. 21 Chevrolet

EVENT: Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix
TRACK: Streets of Downtown Detroit
LOCATION: Detroit, Michigan, USA
TRACK LAYOUT: 1.645-mile, nine-turn street circuit

BROADCAST: Sunday – 12:30 p.m. ET (USA Network, 12 p.m. ET)

CHRISTIAN RASMUSSEN, NO. 20 GUYCARE CHEVROLET

CHRISTIAN RASMUSSEN, No. 20 GuyCare Chevrolet, Qualified 13th: “That’s what this place is all about, just hustling it through! Just so close! I felt pretty maximized on my lap in terms of what we were able to do. In past qualifyings, I always come in and say “Ok, there’s a little more to gain here” or “a bit more to gain there,” today; I felt like we got everything out of it and I am happy about that! But to miss advancing by that little, you just want it that much more!”

OF NOTE: 

Though the 2024 Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will be Christian Rasmussen’s first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on the circuit, he has familiarity with the course by virtue of competing in both INDY NXT races last year. On his final lap of qualifying this afternoon, Rasmussen executed a stellar lap was nearly half a second faster than his previous best time. He jumped up to 7th, missing out on advancing to the second round by only one-tenth of a second. Rasmussen will start 13th in tomorrow’s race.

• Rasmussen joined Ed Carpenter Racing after winning the 2023 INDY NXT championship. Now 23 years old, he was only nine when he claimed his first karting championship in Denmark. Rasmussen arrived in the United States in 2018 and began his road to INDYCAR the following year. He is only the second driver in history earn a championship in each open-wheel junior category that currently feeds the NTT INDYCAR SERIES – USF2000 (2020), USF Pro 2000 (2021) and INDY NXT (2023).  

• Rasmussen has returned to the No. 20 GuyCare Chevrolet after an outstanding performance in last Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. Rasmussen competed in ECR’s third entry, the No. 33, and finished 12th. He drove an excellent race and earned the distinction of being the highest finishing rookie in the field. He ran in the Top 10 for a majority of the 500 miles, including leading the race in his first attempt. 

RINUS VEEKAY, NO. 21 CHEVROLET

RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, Starting 18th: That was a tough qualifying. We struggled much of Practice 2 to get tire temperature up, so we made the choice to go out on greens and stay on greens for the full session. I am pretty happy with my lap, I pushed as hard as I could. Our strategy just did not work out with the track’s evolution. It was worth a try! A lot of stuff can happen tomorrow and I am looking forward to the race to see what we can do. A tough one for us, but good job by Christian!”

OF NOTE: 

Rinus VeeKay and the No. 21 Chevrolet crew worked diligently to improve the car prior to today’s qualifications. In Practice 2, VeeKay found it difficult to get his Firestone Firehawks up to temperature. With that knowledge, the team made the decision to only utilize one set of alternate green Firehawks during qualifications. VeeKay stayed on track for the entire 10-minute session and continually turned laps that would have him advancing. However, in the closing minutes, he fell down the order to 10th. As another competitor who qualified ahead of VeeKay has a grid penalty, VeeKay will move up to the 18th starting position.

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. Now in his fifth season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, VeeKay has stepped into a veteran role as ECR’s senior full-time driver. He has spent his entire career behind the wheel of the No. 21 Chevrolet and is the longest tenured full-time driver in the team’s history. 

•  The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix returned to its roots in the downtown streets in 2023 and VeeKay joined the rest of the field in learning the new circuit. He missed advancing to the second round of qualifying by .0011 of a second and settled for the 14th starting position. With only four laps to go in the race, he was struck from behind by another competitor. As he fought to regain control of the car, he got into the marbles and lost momentum. He dropped from 12th to 18th, where he took the checkered flag. 

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