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A contrite Rinus VeeKay was cleared to drive after breaking a finger during a hard crash early in the Indy 500 test Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Ed Carpenter Racing driver was first on track and lost control of his No. 21 Dallara-Chevrolet entering Turn 1 just minutes after the two-day session at the 2.5-mile oval went green at 11 a.m.
“I’m OK; my hand’s a little beat up, but I’m all right,” VeeKay told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee during the Peacock broadcast. “I can drive again. I want to say sorry to the team, of course. The start of the test and wanted to do as many laps as possible and be successful. Just ended extremely early here. So very, very unfortunate. I’m very sorry. But it was a very weird moment.”
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Despite a morning rain, the test started on time with a dry track but with a heavy headwind from the south down the front straightaway. IndyCar on NBC analyst Townsend Bell said such a wind direction is unusual during typical Indy 500 practice and race conditions in May and possibly caught VeeKay off guard with unexpected understeer in Turn 1.
“Indy should be flat and have a tailwind in (Turn) 3, so it should be very safe going flat out into 1 with headwinds,” VeeKay told Lee. “And I did that, and it felt good on entry, and then from mid-corner, the front dipped down, and I lost it. So once that happens, you’re a passenger.
“I’m going to go back to the trailer now and see what happened exactly, yeah. Just leave this behind and make sure we only learn from this and go better onward.”
Veekay later tweeted that he broke a finger in the crash.
Lee later reported that Ed Carpenter Racing was trying to repair the car, which was slated as its Indy 500 entry. The team’s backup car is scheduled for the April 18 season opener at Barber Motorsports Park and would need to be converted from a road course setup.
Last season, VeeKay crashed twice at Texas Motor Speedway in the season’s opening weekend but rebounded to capture a pole position at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on the way to being named the 2020 IndyCar Rookie of the Year.
After 90 minutes, the test was halted by another shower that soaked the IMS surface, cutting short the final 30 minutes of practice for veterans. The two-hour Rookie Orientation Program, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, also was on hold.
The news wasn’t all bad Thursday for ECR as VeeKay’s teammates, Conor Daly and Ed Carpenter, ranked 1-2 atop the speed charts shortly before the rain.
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