One part of IndyCar’s silly season fell into place on Thursday when Rinus VK announced a multi-year extension with Ed Carpenter Racing.
21 year old Dutch said on Twitter that he stayed in the No. 21 Chevrolet, and unlike recent IndyCar and Formula One contracts, that contract was upheld minutes later when ECR confirmed the news.
VeeKay, who has been allowed to mingle with other teams since Monday this week, is a free agent this season with a new agent. Instead of waiting for the Chip Ganassi Racing situation to resolve with reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou, VeeKay decided to stay put and not bet on Ganassi’s 10th place that might open up.
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IndyCar rookie Callum Illoth did the same last week when he was given a handshake with Juncos Hollinger Racing to return next year, though a 10th place could open up if Palou finds a way out of his hotly contested contract. Ganassi is suing the Spaniard over a deal Palou signed to join McLaren Racing, though it’s not clear if that’s for an IndyCar or F1 spot.
“I am very excited to continue working with Ed Carpenter Racing for my fourth year,” said VeeKay. “Ed Carpenter gave me the opportunity to drive for the team when I left the Indy Lights and has been allowing me to showcase my talents in the Indy car ever since.
“The continuity at ECR is great, there hasn’t been much change in my time here, and it’s nice to have the same group of people around me all the time.”
Very pleased and proud to confirm that I have signed a multi-year agreement with Ed Carpenter Racing. I look forward to fighting together for poles, podiums and wins! @ECRIndy pic.twitter.com/0AswRXoazX
— Rinus Veekay (@rinusveekay) August 4, 2022
VeeKay was the 2020 IndyCar Rookie of the Year and took his only career win last year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Since then, he has tattooed the date of this remarkable victory on his bicep.
This year, VeeKay has one pole, one podium and 11th place in the IndyCar standings ahead of Sunday’s race on the high streets of Nashville. He qualified on the front row twice at the Indianapolis 500.
Team owner Ed Carpenter watched VeeKay progress down the road to Indy, which included one championship, two second-place finishes in the points standings, 16 wins and 36 podium finishes in just 48 races.
“I am so happy that I was able to expand our relationship with Rinus, he is an extremely versatile and talented rider,” said Carpenter. “We were and remain the hope to take our team to the next level with the help of Rinus. Our goals and expectations are to win races and fight for the championship. With the growth of Rinus and the support of BitNile and Todd Ault, we are set to succeed.”
VeeKay becomes the longest-serving staff driver in Ed Carpenter Racing’s 11-year history.
Its renewal comes amid crazy leeway in both IndyCar and F1. Ganassi said he chose Palou last month and hours later Palou said he would not be returning to the team. A few minutes later, McLaren announced that they had signed a contract with Palou.
Just this week, the F1 domino began to fall when Fernando Alonso stunned Alpine by signing with Aston Martin. Alpine announced the next day that it was promoting reserve driver Oscar Piastri, but the 21-year-old Australian denounced the move.
It is also believed that Piastri has a contract with McLaren that gives McLaren too many drivers for the available seats. The Palu fiasco is already in the judiciary; Piastri’s situation is less clear.
At IndyCar, several drivers are still trying to finalize their plans for 2023, including seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. He would like to return for a third season of IndyCar but has yet to secure funding from sponsor Carvana.
Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves is also still working on his future and wants to return for a full season with Meyer-Shank Racing. The Brazilian said he’s not interested in running Indy just for Shank and wants a whole year.
Castroneves is also trying to get a spot in the season-opening NASCAR Daytona 500.