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Dutch Rules: Rinus VeeKay joins Arie Luyendyk among fastest in Indy 500 history

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INDIANAPOLIS. Rinus ViKay and Arie Luyendyk have great Dutch pride in their common homeland in the Netherlands.

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When Vikay, a 21-year-old NTT IndyCar Series driver with Ed Carpenter Racing, was told that his four-lap average of 233.655 mph in Saturday’s opening qualifying round was the third fastest qualifying speed in Indianapolis 500 history, he was fast. note that the record belongs to Luyendyk, a Dutch compatriot.

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“It’s cool that two Dutchmen are in the top three in history, so it’s great that I can be a part of it,” said VeeKay.

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HOW TO VIEW POLE QUALIFIERS: Sunday schedule for Peacock and NBC.

The great Ari Luyendyk of the Netherlands holds a four-lap record of 236.986 mph, set in 1996. Scott Brighton of Coldwater, Michigan has the second fastest qualifying average at 233.718 mph (also set in 1996 before the pole sitter was killed in a practice crash).

VeeKay’s speed knocked out Columbus, Tony Stewart of Indiana from third place. Stewart’s four-lap average of 233,100 mph was also set in 1996.

VeeKay has run the fastest Indy 500 qualifying laps since 1996, four years before he was born.

“These are historical numbers and I think we knocked a lot of guys out of those charts today,” VeeKay said on Saturday. “I think everyone was great and it’s all about who improved the most this year, so I think we’ve done a great job and hopefully I can move up to second place in this historic standings.”

The irony of VeeKay’s near-record speed is that it gave him a temporary pole position for just one day. He was part of a group of 12 fast riders who had to come back on Sunday and do it all over again to narrow the circle down to the ‘fast six’.

These six drivers then had to return to the track and make a final four lap average to determine the pole winner, setting the first two rows for Indy 500, May 29 (11:00 am ET, NBC).

Luyendyk was a “1990s driver” at the Indianapolis 500, winning in 1990 and 1997 (the only other driver during that decade to win two Indy 500s was Al Unser Jr. in 1992 and 1994). Luyendyk got the nod because his one and four lap qualifying runs have stood the test of time since that fateful year of Split in 1996.

Luyendyk was a racing mentor and advisor to VeeKay. He is also one of two IndyCar stewards (along with former driver Max Papis) who work alongside race director Kyle Novak.

As VeeKay’s first lap speed topped 234 mph, Luyendyk was in control and admitted he was overwhelmed.

“I looked up and thought, ‘God (shit), where did this come from? Luyendyk said in an exclusive interview with “I talked to him about his car and he thought he could do it. He knew what he had in his hands, and it happened today.

“I was very impressed and very happy that he was doing well, but of course Ed Carpenter gave him a good car for Indianapolis. He immediately fell in love with Indy when he was a rookie and he loves running here. Like it’s a big deal.

“He works very well with his engineer and they do a great job together.

“The funny thing is, I didn’t even talk to him all week. We talked about things, but not about racing. There comes a point when you stop giving them advice because they learn a lot on their own.

“I’m still here as a supporter and friend, but I’m also very happy.”

Luyendyk also believes that “Dutch pride” in racing also includes Formula One Champion Max Verstappen (who won Sunday in Spain).

“It’s cool to see an orange car with the Dutch flag on the front fenders,” Luyendyk said. “In all other respects, I remain as patriotic towards the Netherlands as I am towards the United States. I remain a patriot and am proud to see another Dutchman succeed in racing.”

Luyendyk’s record stands for 26 years, in part because IndyCar deliberately slowed down cars during the years of the Indy Racing League, which began with a new formula in 1997 and has been heavily regulated ever since.

But engineering experience and new engine formulas allowed the speed to be increased to 230 miles per hour.

“Cars have been slower all these years, and I probably don’t give myself credit, but you have to be realistic, they have less horsepower,” Luyendyk said. “They’re not going to break it on Sunday either, because they’re not going to find 3 mph overnight.”

Luyendyk looks forward to the day when another racer breaks his longtime speed record at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I have always said that I look forward to the days when they get close to that and beat my record during qualifying. It would be great if they broke it in training on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and then officially broke it on Saturday or Sunday during qualifying. It would be good for the sport.

“That would be cool and I would agree with that.”

VK was a child prodigy when he joined IndyCar in 2020 as a 19-year-old rookie.

He entered the “fast nine” at the 2020 Indianapolis 500 and holds the record as the fastest teenager in Indianapolis 500 history when he qualified fourth fastest in his rookie season with an average of 230.704 mph over four laps.

Last year, he started outside the front row, averaging 231.511 mph over four laps.

“He immediately showed speed, but not always agility,” said Luyendyk. “He goes for it. He is not afraid to attack. Sometimes he bit him on the backside. We know that he has speed on any race track. He is definitely a star and star of IndyCar.

“I see that he will stay for a long time and we will enjoy his talents. Nice to see. I am very happy for him and his family, because they have invested a lot in this and sacrificed a lot. He definitely has talent.”

Like Luyendyk, VeeKay loves fast turns in Indianapolis. Both riders developed agility and rhythm to overcome the demanding 2.5-mile oval. It’s a feeling that both share.

“It’s a matter of feeling,” Luyendyk said. “If you look at what happened last year in qualifying, he saved the car, he was able to keep moving and bring it to the fore. These reactions and his quick reaction; you cannot teach it to anyone. You either have it or you don’t.

“He has a sense of what to do in this place.”

This feeling was fully shown during the qualifying weekend for the Indy 500.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500.


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