The 2020 REV Group Grand Prix at Road America comes at a perfect time for Rinus VeeKay. The NTT IndyCar Series rookie just posted his first top-5 result in last weekend’s 2020 GMR Grand Prix, and now he’s going to a track that he is well familiar with. Naturally, he’s aiming to make an even bigger impression in this weekend’s doubleheader.
Before the start of the busy weekend, VeeKay spoke to Frontstretch about his success at Indianapolis, how he recovered from his crash in the 2020 IndyCar season opener at Texas, and the expectations he has for himself when he returns to Road America as a full-time IndyCar driver.
Be sure to check out our 2020 REV Group Grand Prix at Road America Race 1 preview for more on Saturday’s first of two races. The race airs Saturday, July 11 at 5:00 p.m. ET on NBC.
Brittany Frederick, Frontstretch: Rinus, you had a very impressive drive in the GMR Grand Prix, taking your car from 18th to fifth place. Can you talk about what it means to have achieved that fairly early on, and to be able to come into this doubleheader on a career high?
Rinus VeeKay: I just feel very happy to finally have my first top five in IndyCar. It was a tough start in Texas. I worked hard in the past month to make sure that I would be prepared as best as possible for Indy. That worked. Indy was a nice weekend. Everything was according to plan. I was very happy with that [finish]. Have to thank the team for that.
It was just a great weekend. Makes me smile when I think about it. I think we can go into the REV Group Grand Prix with the same mentality, hopefully go for more top-5s or even a podium.
— Rinus VeeKay (@rinusveekay) July 4, 2020
FS: You now have an incredible challenge in front of you, with two races here and then another set of events in Iowa next weekend. How difficult do you think this two-week stint is going to be, and are you concerned at all about just getting exhausted?
RV: It’s going to be tough having back-to-back doubleheaders. Of course, it’s going to be really hot [at Road America]. In Indy that was one of the toughest conditions I’ve ever driven in—being in the car with it being so hot.
I think it will be important to recover well between races. In Road America, you got a lot of rest on the straightaways. That’s a plus. In Iowa, you’re just working the whole time. I’m curious to see how it works. I’m planning to finish in Iowa.
FS: You mentioned the extra preparation you did between Texas and Indianapolis. Can you walk us through the process of making a rookie mistake like that, and how you were able to utilize it for success at Indy and hopefully now in Wisconsin?
RV: It was definitely tough. It was the biggest setback I’ve had in my career. But it’s like being young—you do something wrong and your parents, they make sure you don’t do it ever again…Of course, before Texas I had the most trouble getting into the country. That wasn’t ideal. I think that affected my focus throughout the weekend.
Then in Indy, I just spent the whole month looking at onboard data, everything I could. I was so prepared that I stepped into the car and it felt like I had already done a few days of driving.
The 2020 REV Group Grand Prix at Road America takes place Saturday and Sunday, July 11 and 12, at Road America. The races air at 5:00 p.m. ET and 12:00 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSN respectively.