We are for Day 2 in Indianapolis interviewing the NTT INDYCAR Series drivers before the start of the 2024 season.
Ed Carpenter’s Racing Rinus VeeKay is entering his fifth season with the team and is looking forward to working with his new rookie teammate, Christian Rasmussen, who is the same age as VeeKay.
VeeKay was asked what he expected in the coming season.
“Yeah, I think 2023 definitely was a tough season, toughest so far, I think, in my time on the team. But, yeah, I think 2024 is going to be a good one.”
“Having Christian as a team, first time for me having a rookie as a teammate, but also someone who is basically my age. I think we really kind of think the same way and
drive the same way, so I think it’s a really good match. Already on the simulator we’ve been kind of saying the same thing while not knowing we say the same thing. So that’s really good.”
“I think it’s just going to be a good team. I think we’ve got a really good team that really can work our way up throughout the season to the top.”
Last season, Ryan Hunter-Reay joined the team, replacing the Conor Daly for half of the season. The Dutchman commented about what he learned from the veteran driver.
“Well, Ryan age-wise could be my dad.”
“He definitely is a driver from a different era. He would come to the track in the morning and have this notebook. In that notebook, were the things he thought about the night before. The answers to his notes would better prepare him for his day.”
“Ryan really made me see and helped me get better at the preparation, the deep analyzing before an event. Writing everything down and thinking just a little bit
further than I have before a race weekend to be more prepared.”
“I think that really has helped. I think my races so far, definitely the second half of 2023 season, have been kind of spotless.”
“I was happy with that, and I think that really helped me get a bit more complete and take some of his wisdom and made me a bit more versatile.”
Although the announcement that Santino Ferrucci would be signed with AJ Foyt Enterprises for a second year was just made on Tuesday of this week, the American told AR1 that he knew four months ago that he would be back for the 2024 season.
This season, Team Penske will have a technical alliance for engineering with the Foyt team. Ferrucci was asked what that meant to him.
“Well, I think it’s massive. Seeing that partnership grow, seeing what it can potentially
become, and sitting in on some of those meetings, it’s definitely very unique. I’ve seen some partnerships throughout my years in racing, and this one is definitely unlike any other relationship I have experienced.”
“I think we can’t thank Penske enough for working with us. And dramatic results. There’s still a lot that goes on behind the scenes. It’s not exactly a plug-and-play sport, as much as we wish it was. But we should improve our road course and street course program significantly.”
“And obviously, our IndyCar Indy 500 program is now working with a powerhouse like Penske — we were already really good. We did finish behind them this year in the race part, which is obviously not the goal. But I think with all of us working together, we can put five cars out there that are hopefully untouchable.”
Chip Ganassi’s driver for his second year with the team, Marcus Armstrong is signed for the full season. Last year, the Kiwi was not happy that he did not get to run the oval races, because his #11 entry was driven by Takuma Sato. This year he will get his wish.
Armstrong was asked what his season will look like now that he is full-time.
” I’d say two things will be different. I’ll be busier, which is good. I thought it was probably a bit of a disadvantage not being able to get into a rhythm every single weekend, and having a break, for lack of a better word. Then again, it was great to be able to be at the track and watch the experts, the oval experts and learn from them.”
“But it’s nice to know that I’ll be able to get into more of a rhythm throughout the year.”
“Then obviously ovals. I think certainly Chip has told me that ovals help your road and street course racing a lot more than you think, just with the basics of driving, the speed and where to put your eyes and everything. It’s certainly going to open my mind up to a few new aspects of this category.”
“I have to say that there’s a lot of experienced people inside the team on ovals. I spend quite a lot of time with Dario Franchitti, and he is extremely passionate about teaching.
He is very passionate about ovals. I have a good teacher in him.”
Armstrong was asked his thoughts on how the IndyCar hybrid engine would effect his season.
“Certainly there will be nuances to how to perform at its maximum, which always takes a bit of time to understand with the energy deployment and regeneration. Eventually, there will be a way of being the most efficient on that side.”
“There will be a bit of trial and error, certainly. And obviously, whether or not the driver has the most input on that, it’s yet to be determined. But it will take some time to understand the way to maximize that whole package. And obviously there’s a different weight distribution and center of gravity and everything that goes with it. So that will also have a bit of an adjustment on car setup, I imagine.”
Interesting to note that Armstrong has a favorite American football team, the San Francisco 49ers. And he impressed us with his knowledge of other teams.
Lucille Dust reporting live from Indianapolis