Dutch driver Rinus VeeKay took his first NTT Data IndyCar Series victory on Saturday, passing ex-Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean to win the GMR Grand Prix from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
VeeKay started in seventh position after narrowly missing out on the Firestone Fast Six on Friday. The 20-year-old Dutchman then drove a fast yet consistent race to hold onto the front runners, with his Ed Carpenter Racing team going on an alternate strategy to gain track position. Veekay took the lead on Lap 65 of 85 when Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon came into the pits for the final time. Veekay’s strategy also put him in front of polesitter and former race leader Grosjean, who opted for a different strategy that would give him fresher Firestone alternate tires for the closing 20 laps.
Grosjean whittled VeeKay’s lead down from nearly ten seconds to under five seconds over the course of the remaining laps, but never got close enough to threaten the Chevy driver’s lead. Veekay led Grosjean across the finish, while Barber winner Alex Palou rounded out the podium in third. VeeKay later described his first-ever IndyCar win as a “perfect day,” and said getting his first victory at the storied speedway was a “dream.”
“We had an awesome start to the weekend,” VeeKay exclaimed. “I knew we had the car; we were so fast. I’m so happy for the team, so thankful. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Fans at the speedway also showered Grosjean in praise and applause during his podium appearance. The Frenchman was involved in a major crash at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix that left him with burns on his hands and has gained an abundance of fan and media attention for the positive and upbeat attitude he has shown in the months after the crash. The second-place result was Grosjean’s first open-wheel podium since his third-place finish in the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix.
“It’s incredible,” Grosjean said post-race, referring to the cheering crowd at IMS. “Bahrain, it was horrible, but for my life it’s been a great experience, and people really are behind me, and I can tell. I can feel it. The support I’m having is incredible. You only see me smiling here in the U.S.”
Check out the video embedded below for complete highlights from GMR Grand Prix.