Rinus VeeKay went into the new season with high expectations for himself and the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy team, and so far, 2023 has been an extended exercise in being positive and patient while dealing with an absence of speed.

Mired in 18th in the championship standings, the young NTT IndyCar Series star has pinned his hopes on the Indianapolis 500 as the place where his year — and ECR’s — takes a major turn for the better.

“It’s definitely not what we expected, this year,” VeeKay told RACER. “We were going to step up, and well, we did not. But I think we can. We just haven’t really been able to put everything together yet. So for me, I’m always a positive thinker. I don’t want to be in the past. We’ve got the Indy 500 coming and I think we’ll have one of the best cars here, so I’m excited for this.”

The Dutchman ended the first day of Indy 500 practice in 18th, but slid to 30th on Thursday. Nonetheless, the winner of the 2021 Indy Grand Prix remains undaunted.

“It’s good to struggle at times,” he said of the season as a whole. “I think it pushes me to extract everything I can out of the driving out of the car, sit with the engineers, understand more. And when it goes well, you sit back and enjoy it, right? When we’re struggling like we are this year, we are constantly working and trying to find stuff. And I’m looking way deeper into my driving than I ever have. I think I’m actually improving. And for the future, I think I’m really getting more complete because we are having a tough year.”

To expedite the process, the 22-year-old has thrown himself into all aspects of the team’s efforts to post stronger results.

“Definitely, it’s a team effort, and I’m just one of the team players,” he said. “I think I’ve never spent so many late nights at the racetrack like this year, but it’s worth it. I think we are getting a bit more insight on the car, and we need to improve, but I think we can get to be in the top 10. We are working hard to make it happen.”

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