A quick glance at the results page for the 105th Indianapolis 500 would show that Rinus VeeKay earned a solid top 10 finish after starting on the front row, but that does not come close to telling the whole story of how he earned that result.
Competing in his second Indy 500 for Ed Carpenter Racing, VeeKay had one of the fastest cars throughout the entire two-week event.
He bested his team owner and team-mate Ed Carpenter in qualifying by a mere 0.007 MPH over the course of a four-lap run, earning the young Dutchman a third place grid position and the record for the youngest ever front-row starter.
By lap two, he was out front in his special polka-dotted Bitcoin livery, leading drivers that had been competing in this race longer than he had been alive.
Staying out front cost VeeKay in the fuel mileage game, however, and he was the first driver to be forced to come down pit road on lap 31. He was routinely the first driver to complete each round of pit stops and, without the ability to better choose the timing of those stops, drifted back into the lower half of the top 10.
With 15 laps to go, the 20-year-old found himself all the way back in 17th position. He was able to gain some positions due to others pitting, but he also put on a masterclass in on-track passes in the closing laps.
His ability to make passes stick on other drivers is no surprise; VeeKay has made a habit of making the highlight reel with bold moves on his way to the front.
With two laps to go he had worked his way back into the top 10, and then proceeded to pass Tony Kanaan and Juan Pablo Montoya on track just before the checkered flag flew. The incredible run secured VeeKay an eighth place finish, and a considerably haul of points.
The sophomore driver had already put himself sixth place in the points after his maiden with earlier in the month on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, but moved up one further position on account of the double points on offer for the Indy 500.
VeeKay was a bit disappointed after the race, but understood that gaining so many positions in the final laps of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” and to do so by passing some of the biggest names in the sport, was an accomplishment in its own right.
The charismatic Dutch driver has now finished five of the first six races of the season in the top 10, and will look to continue that good run at the Detroit Grand Prix double header on June 12-13.