Monday, May 20, 2024

QUALIFYING NOTES: Streets of Nashville

STARTING POSITIONS

19th: RINUS VEEKAY No. 21 BITNILE.COM
27th: RYAN HUNTER-REAY No. 20 BITNILE.COM

RACE: Big Machine Music City Grand Prix
TRACK: Streets of Nashville
LOCATION: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
TRACK LAYOUT: 2.15-mile, 11-turn street circuit
RACE LENGTH: 80 laps/173.6 miles

BROADCAST: Sunday – 11 a.m. CT (NBC)

RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 20 BITNILE.COM CHEVROLET

RYAN HUNTER-REAY, No. 20 BitNile Chevrolet, Qualified 27th: “I can’t really explain how we ended the day. We were competitive in Practice 1 and 7th this morning in Practice 2, but in qualifying we weren’t even in the ballpark. We’ll have to go back and look at everything to try and get an understanding of why. This is a first in my career and unfortunately I don’t have answers right now. We’ll have to look at it and hopefully make this better for tomorrow.”

OF NOTE: 

• Rain started mid-morning and continued throughout Practice 2. The session was delayed, then shorted to 30 minutes. Ryan Hunter-Reay turned the 7th-fastest lap in the practice, which was run exclusively on Firestone’s wet Firehawk tires. As INDYCAR officials evaluated track conditions, qualifying was delayed until 5:15 p.m. CT. Hunter-Reay was assigned to the second group, where his best lap had him 14th overall. He will start 27th in tomorrow’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. 

Hunter-Reay was part of the field of the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in 2021. After narrowly missing out on advancing to the second round of qualifying, he started 14th and was up to 12th by the end of the first lap. He continued to carve his way forward with a combination of smart driving and solid strategy. He spent almost the entirety of the second half of the event in the Top 5, moving up to 4th in the final laps.

• 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 19th: “That was a pretty disappointing qualifying session. I had felt pretty racy, especially this morning in practice in the rain, but we just didn’t have it in qualifying. We will work hard overnight to come back with a good racecar for tomorrow.”

OF NOTE: 

In this morning’s rainy and wet practice session, Rinus VeeKay turned the second-fastest lap in the tricky conditions. When qualifying got underway several hours behind schedule, VeeKay was out first in Round 1, Group 1. He began the session on a set of sticker green Firestone Firehawks, switching to a second set after two laps. At the conclusion of the 10-minute session, VeeKay sat 10th on the charts. His quickest lap will have him rolling off from 19th in the third annual race through the downtown streets of Nashville. 

Nashville’s tight street circuit presented many challenges for VeeKay in his two starts. In 2021, he was up 10 positions when he came across a completely blocked track. With nowhere to go, the VeeKay made contact with the stopped cars and was then hit from behind, ultimately forcing his retirement from the event. Last year, he was caught in nearly an identical situation. However, damage was limited to only the front wing this time and he was able to rejoin the race. Clean and consistent laps from then on and a last-lap pass contributed to his picking up five positions in the final 15 laps.

• 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. VeeKay has spent his entire NTT INDYCAR SERIES career with Ed Carpenter Racing and is the team’s longest-tenured full-time driver, now in his fourth season behind the wheel the No. 21 BTINILE.COM Chevrolet. Earlier this season, the 22-year-old made his 50th career start and qualified on the front row of the Indianapolis 500 for the third consecutive year.

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