CHILD’S PLAY: Younger new expertise takes Indy 500 by storm

INDIANAPOLIS — Rinus VeeKay traveled from The Netherlands to his first Indianapolis 500 as a wide-eyed 15-year-old fan on the one centesimal working of “The Biggest Spectacle in Racing.”

Arie Luyendyk was one among his favourite drivers. When the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner held a meet-and-greet at Union Jack’s Pub throughout from the speedway, VeeKay waited his flip in line to satisfy the man Dutchman.

VeeKay is 20 now, and the youngest driver to begin on the entrance row of the Indianapolis 500.

“I’ve been right here as a spectator and proper now I’m beginning on the entrance row for my second Indy 500, which is insane,” he mentioned. “I’m over the moon.”

There was a seismic shift in IndyCar this season with an authoritative arrival of a model new wave of drivers. They’re youngsters on this collection alongside six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, thought-about the best driver of his technology.

And but Dixon is the one veteran with a win to date this season. IndyCar has had 5 completely different winners via 5 races headed into Sunday’s race. Three drivers have been first-time winners, all however Dixon are 24 or youthful.

VeeKay earned his first profession win simply two weeks in the past on the highway course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Now he’ll begin the Indy 500 alongside Colton Herta, the 21-year-old American touted as IndyCar’s latest star.

Herta is a second-generation IndyCar racer who has grown up within the collection, left briefly to race in Europe, and almost beat Dixon for the pole. He is a four-time winner already, has a model new contract extension with Andretti Autosport, and he believes this new crop of IndyCar drivers can go wheel-to-wheel with the perfect.

“I’m not stunned that our age group is successful,” Herta mentioned. “I feel we grew up with a really gifted age group. We had a number of younger, rising stars that we raced towards after we have been youthful which have made it to skilled motorsports.

“I wouldn’t be stunned if one among us received the Indy 500.”

The brand new crop consists of Pato O’Ward, who completed fourth in final 12 months’s IndyCar championship, received his first profession win earlier this month and is a part of the title hunt at fourth within the standings forward of the double-points Indy 500. The 22-year-old Mexican is in style, however his confidence is usually mischaracterized as cockiness.

He is at all times had his sights on System One and his Arrow McLaren SP crew is tied to McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. O’Ward was promised an F1 check with an IndyCar win, and Brown mentioned it is going to occur on the finish of this 12 months.

The IndyCar devoted consider Herta and O’Ward ought to be racing in Europe and, if cash and politics weren’t so vital, may very well be a part of F1 groups.

However Brown mentioned that angle is dismissive of IndyCar, which runs on a a lot smaller funds and scale however has a aggressive product with parity via the sphere. Brown warned towards O’Ward turning into distracted by a future F1 check drive.

“I would wish to see him do what he’s doing and have a run on the IndyCar championship this 12 months,” Brown mentioned. “He clearly has the tempo and the expertise, nevertheless it’s crucial for us to win the IndyCar championship. I feel most racing drivers would really like a possibility in System One if they’ll get it, however I feel successful the IndyCar championship is equally difficult.

“Some might argue it is tougher as a result of there’s extra drivers and groups which have the power. In order that’s an superior accomplishment that he is laser-focused on.”

This group additionally consists of Alex Palou, who at 24 is the outdated man of the brand new youngsters. The Spaniard received the season opener in his first race with Chip Ganassi Racing and, even after wrecking exhausting in Saturday qualifying, mentioned he had no fears working once more Sunday and certified sixth for the Indy 500.

“It’s good to see that eagerness,” Dixon mentioned. “I’ve been with different teammates in earlier years, they don’t actually need to exit.”

These drivers aren’t afraid to race towards their one-time heroes, who at the moment are rivals and friends. Dixon turns 41 in July, the mixed age of front-row qualifiers Herta and VeeKay, but there isn’t any intimidation.

“I bear in mind once I was consuming Cheerios at 8 years outdated and Scott Dixon was successful the Indy 500,” Herta mentioned. “It’s sort of loopy to see the blokes you’re watching on TV, you get to race towards now. Simply can’t await Sunday, see what we are able to do.”

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Extra AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports activities

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