Rinus VeeKay has become the third first-time winner in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series after storming to victory at the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 20-year-old charged his way from seventh on the grid to eventually hunt down Romain Grosjean for the race lead just over halfway through and never looked back despite running into a late-race scare after getting low on fuel.
The Dutchman’s victory is the first for Ed Carpenter Racing in five years and made it five different winners from the opening five races of 2021.
Grosjean dominated the opening half of the race from his maiden pole position but a combination of a different strategy and traffic, with the Frenchman having to battle Takuma Sato, brought Veekay firmly into play.
Veekay shadowed Grosjean after the second of three stops and made a move while the Dale Coyne Racing driver was still getting his tyres up to temperature.
Grosjean nonetheless captured his first podium in the series, his first since Formula 1’s 2015 Belgian Grand Prix, and also bagged the two bonus points for most laps lead.
Alex Palou secured the final spot on the podium; the pace of the two tyre compounds hurt the Spaniard’s speed after not having enough of the softer Red Firestone tyres to keep up with the leaders.
Penske’s Josef Newgarden had to settle for fourth, having dropped back from the first row of the grid, with his prospects stymied further by a slow pit stop.
A stunning display of strategy resulted in Graham Rahal crossing the line in fifth place; he pitted early under caution and despite being adrift of the pack managed a net two-stop approach thereafter to climb the order.
Simon Pagenaud was involved in a first-lap tangle with Conor Daly but went unpunished and rose to sixth.
Alexander Rossi had to get his elbows out and deal with potential engine issues to move from 14th on the grid to cross the line in seventh, ahead of rookie Scott McLaughlin, who picked up another top 10 finish.
Scott Dixon maintained his points lead despite a low-key weekend as he rose from a tricky first lap to take ninth, ahead of Ganassi team-mate Marcus Ericsson.
Harvey had trailed Grosjean during the early stages of the race but a disastrous pit stop, and puncture, left him firmly out of contention.
Practice for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 will begin on Tuesday.