After months of waiting, young IndyCar star Rinus VeeKay has reached August 1, the first day he’s allowed to negotiate with teams to determine where he’ll drive in 2023 and beyond.

The Dutchman went into the final year of his contract with Ed Carpenter Racing with the full expectation of drawing interest from other teams, and with his contract calling for an August 1 start to open formal talks, the 21-year-old hired veteran manager Adrian Sussman to scour the paddock and find the best opportunities.

Among VeeKay’s options, a return to ECR – where his talents are coveted by the team – stands as the easiest path to follow, and after that, it’s unclear where his services would be in the highest demand.

“August 1, I think it’s exciting,” VeeKay told RACER. “Of course, there’s been quite a lot of interest all season, which is good. It’s definitely a big step in my career. First time I’m at the end of the contract with no ties anymore. But I try not to focus too much on it because I’ve got Nashville coming up this weekend, and it could be a distraction. So I want to have Adrian take care of that, and after Nashville I will put some more time into thinking about it.”

A volatile silly season has seen a constant wave of doors opening and closing prior to VeeKay’s receiving the green light to potentially sign with a team other than ECR. Of the possible vacancies at the team that would be considered equal or better to ECR, Arrow McLaren SP’s No. 7 Chevy has Felix Rosenqvist and/or Alex Palou in line to drive the car. Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 10 Honda is expected to have a new driver to replace Palou, and while VeeKay is the highest profile free agent on the IndyCar market, there’s been little to suggest he’s atop CGR’s shortlist of candidates. It leaves the recent development within Andretti Autosport where the No. 29 Honda currently piloted by rookie Devlin DeFrancesco could be in need of a race-winning driver, and if VeeKay isn’t in play there, a return to ECR one a one-year deal might make the most sense.

Looking to 2024, some of the most successful drivers in IndyCar will be seeking new contracts, and for VeeKay, the inner debate right now is whether it would be best to hold station and look at making a move around this time next year if the opportunity presents itself.

“That’s definitely an option,” he said. “There’s definitely stuff opening up in ‘24, too, but you never know what’s going to happen in future, so we’ll see how that goes. But I think it’s not bad to be off-sequence with many other guys. I think there’s a lot of seats to open and a lot of guys coming out of their contracts in 2023. It will be a lot of drivers trying to get into those seats, so I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing or a bad thing for me.”