TORONTO, Ontario – Oliver Askew claimed his fourth race win of the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires season Sunday for Andretti Autosport on the streets of Toronto.
Askew was perfectly positioned to take advantage when pacesetters Aaron Telitz and Rinus VeeKay tangled in turn three on lap 25 of the 40-lap Cooper Tires Grand Prix presented by Allied Building Products.
The Floridian now leads the chase for a scholarship prize which includes a guaranteed three starts in the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series, including the 104th Indianapolis 500, by a relatively comfortable 25 points with seven races remaining.
Englishman Toby Sowery finished second for BN Racing/Team Pelfrey, while local favorite Dalton Kellett secured his best finish of the season in third for Juncos Racing.
“I didn’t get a good jump at the start so I was pacing myself early on. I probably used more push-to-pass than I should have, but I did save enough for the finish,” said Askew. “I saw Aaron make a few mistakes and Rinus had a few opportunities in turn three – and I was having flashbacks to two years ago in USF2000, when a couple of cars crashed in front of me in that corner and I got taken out with them. It’s so easy to go wide and hit the wall there. I’m sorry for them but that’s what happens when you push the issue in that corner. I’m just glad I was far enough back to avoid them. Sometimes patience pays off, and it definitely did today. To come away with a big points jump is great.
“I’m also really glad to finally get a win for my engineer, Doug Zister – this is his first win on his home track … so I’m going to give this trophy to him.”
After extending a slender three-point championship lead over VeeKay to six points with a runner-up on Saturday, one place ahead of his primary rival, Askew added another point to his tally by claiming the pole during qualifying Sunday morning.
At the first corner, however, Askew had little option then concede to an aggressive outbraking move from Saturday winner Telitz, who is competing on a race-to-race basis for Belardi Auto Racing.
VeeKay also took advantage by nipping through into second place ahead of Askew, with Kellett slotting into fourth.
Telitz set a torrid pace from the outset, quickly establishing a small but appreciable advantage over VeeKay, but it wasn’t long before the Dutch teenager was into his stride and closing the gap down to just a few car lengths.
After a failed attempt to wrest away the lead at turn three on lap 11, VeeKay settled back for a few laps before redoubling his efforts. On lap 24, Telitz made an error under braking for turn eight and only narrowly averted disaster.
VeeKay realized this might provide his best opportunity to make a move for the lead, and indeed he did just that on the fastest part of the track, Lake Shore Boulevard. VeeKay nosed alongside on the outside line, but in doing so left his braking just a fraction too late for turn three.
Angling toward the apex and trying desperately to scrub off speed, VeeKay barely clipped the front of Telitz’s bright red Dallara before nosing into the tire barrier on the outside of the turn.
Telitz, too, was unable to make the corner, but Askew, who had been following around 1.5 seconds behind, had no such trouble.
Once into the lead, Askew reeled off the remaining laps without incident to score a comfortable win by 6.8331 seconds over Sowery, who had overtaken Kellett at turn three in the early stages.
Kellett finished a delighted third after holding off a determined late challenge from Ryan Norman, who started eighth. Norman fell to last place on the opening lap, then worked his way through nicely to claim the Tilton Hard Charger Award.