LEXINGTON, Ohio – Oliver Askew collected his seventh Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda victory of the season on Friday afternoon at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The 20-year-old from Jupiter, Fla., in his first full season of car racing, had seen his once comfortable 60-point advantage in the championship whittled away to just 18 markers over fellow rookie Rinus VeeKay, with only three races remaining in the season. Friday Askew qualified Cape Motorsports’ Soul Red Tatuus-Mazda USF-17 comfortably on the pole, then led throughout the 30-minute race to pick up the victory.
USF2000 veteran Parker Thompson, who scored the first two victories for the Exclusive Autosport team just two weeks ago on the streets of Toronto, continued his excellent form by finishing second ahead of title aspirant VeeKay.
Subsequently, Askew, who was on probation for previous start violations, was adjudged to have accelerated before the prescribed marker at the initial start and was assessed a 10-point championship penalty. He now leads VeeKay by 19 points with one race Saturday and the season finale at Watkins Glen Int’l in early September remaining.
Askew led over Kohl at the start, with Thompson and VeeKay anxiously looking for a way past. Thompson made his move for second place stick on the third lap, while VeeKay followed suit next time around. The trio traded fastest laps as they pulled well clear of Kohl, who in turn was under no pressure from teammate Calvin Ming, from Guyana, South America.
Just when it looked like Askew had the race under control, an incident between Kaylen Frederick and Moises de le Vara, who were battling mightily over seventh place, ended with contact at Turn Five, which necessitated a full-course caution. The restart came with less than five minutes remaining, and Askew was up for the challenge as he made an exemplary getaway to cement his advantage over Thompson and VeeKay.
Askew took the checkered flag 1.3282 seconds in front of Thompson, with his constant shadow VeeKay right behind in third.
“The penalty doesn’t change my mindset,” said Askew. “The focus is to just keep on winning races and the championship will come in the end. We have the speed to qualify on pole and that’s huge here because it is quite difficult to pass. There was a ton of pressure going into this weekend and that pressure is still there. Cape Motorsports has dominated here the past few years, winning every race, so I know I’ll have a fast car again tomorrow and can go for the pole and the win again.”
Kohl held on for fourth ahead of Ming in fifth.
Oliver Askew, Parker Thompson, Rinus VeeKay, Lucas Kohl, Calvin Ming, David Malukas, Kaylen Fredrick, Kory Enders, Darren Keane, Dev Gore, Devin Wojcik, Andres Gutierrez, Colin Kaminsky, Jayson Clunie, Bruna Tomaselli, Jacob Abel, Robert Megennis, Phillippe Denes, Moises de la Vara.