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No. 10: VeeKay, Grosjean Shine in GMR Grand Prix

Note: The editorial staff at IMS.com is taking a look back at the 10 biggest moments of 2021 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in this year-end series, with one installment appearing on the site per day in countdown fashion from Dec. 22-31.

The 2021 Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway got off to an incredible start with the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course, setting the tone for what would be not only a thrilling Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, but a memorable season at the Racing Capital of the World.

The action-packed race on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile circuit proved to be a battle between rising star Rinus VeeKay and Formula One veteran Romain Grosjean. Both drivers had shown signs of greatness in their relatively young NTT INDYCAR SERIES careers, but they took it to a new level May 15.

VeeKay, at age 20, held his own against the international racing star to score his first career win in his 19th series start with a 4.9510-second victory over Grosjean in the No. 21 Sonax Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing. The wide margin of victory betrays the thrills of the day.

VeeKay produced one of the most memorable moments of the entire NTT INDYCAR SERIES season with a pass entering Turn 7 on Lap 41. VeeKay exited the pits and was trying to gain every inch and leap Grosjean during the pit sequence.

Going down the backstretch, he drafted up to side-by-side teammates Alex Palou and Jimmie Johnson heading into the tight left-hand corner. Instead of taking it easy, VeeKay split the difference and forced himself between, and past, the Chip Ganassi Racing drivers.

On the other end of the spectrum was Grosjean, who was making just his third career NTT INDYCAR SERIES start. He joined Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing to drive the No. 51 on road and street courses after a fiery end to his F1 career in late 2020 in Bahrain.

He had shown in races at Barber Motorsports Park and St. Petersburg that he might have what it takes to succeed in North America’s premier open-wheel series, but Grosjean took it to a whole new level during the GMR Grand Prix.

Grosjean scored the NTT P1 Award for pole to large cheers from the socially distanced crowd at IMS for his first pole position since claiming the top spot in GP2 – the final ladder series leading into F1 – in May 2011 at Istanbul, Turkey.

In the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda, Grosjean fought through concerns of leading his first rolling start on Race Day and led a race-high 44 laps before finishing second to VeeKay. It was his first podium finish since 2015 at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, with Lotus in F1.

This race helped the NTT INDYCAR SERIES realize VeeKay should be a force for years to come and that Grosjean might become the fan favorite, star driver it didn’t know it had.

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