LEXINGTON, Ohio – Oliver Askew extended his Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires points lead with a commanding victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday.
The 22-year-old’s fifth win of the season in 12 races stretched his advantage to 35 points over Dutchman Rinus VeeKay, who finished third Saturday behind Askew’s teammate, Ryan Norman.
After claiming the pole position in qualifying Friday afternoon, Askew held off outside front row qualifier and teammate Robert Megennis at the first corner and was never seriously threatened throughout the 30-lap race held in warm conditions on the undulating and picturesque 2.258-mile road circuit.
“I feel as though I’m in a mode right now,” Askew said. “I was super-happy to win but the job is not done. We have a lot of races to go and we have to keep our heads down. Rinus and I are always going to be on the podium together so it’s important to win every race. We were quick in the test last week so it’s down to me and the team to execute in qualifying, which we did this weekend.
“I’m so proud of everyone at Andretti Autosport for giving me such a quick car. We’ve been fast here (at Mid-Ohio) the past few years, especially last year with Pato (O’Ward) and Colton (Herta) and Ryan (Norman) sweeping the podium. Maybe we can sweep tomorrow, but for me and my camp, the goal is to execute and win as many races as possible. We’re the only car starting on new tires tomorrow so we should be good.”
A preceding Stadium Super Truck Series race made for a slippery track surface, especially during the opening stages of the race. Toronto race winner Aaron Telitz was the first to be caught out, spinning at the exit of turn five on the opening lap. Next time around, third-place runner Toby Sowery looped his BN Racing/Team Pelfrey Dallara-AER in turn nine, and then Canadian Dalton Kellett ran off the road on the exit of the final corner, turn 14. All three resumed at the back of the pack.
Megennis remained in contention, only 1.5 seconds in arrears of Askew with 10 laps completed, with Norman, having inherited third place from Sowery, also chasing gamely in third. VeeKay, meanwhile, after problems in qualifying caused him to line up only sixth on the grid, was up into fourth at this stage, albeit with a deficit of more than three seconds to the leading trio.
Sowery, who started third, had worked his way back up to fifth following his early gyration, only to lose control again as he crested the rise at turn 11 on Lap 10, spinning off into the tire barriers. Sowery was unhurt but the full-course caution waved while his stricken car was retrieved.
Askew made an exemplary restart and soon began to pull away from Megennis, who was unable to shake off the attentions of Norman. On lap 19, Norman took advantage of his AER turbo engine’s push-to-pass feature to power past Megennis on the main straightaway. Five laps later VeeKay attempted to follow suit, only for Megennis to hold his line through Turn Four, forcing VeeKay to the outside and, ultimately, to tuck back into line. Next time around, Megennis bowed to the inevitable as VeeKay completed his pass a little earlier on the straightaway and moved through neatly into third.
Oliver Askew, Ryan Norman, Rinus VeeKay, Robert Megennis, David Malukas, Lucas Kohl, Dalton Kellett, Aaron Telitz, Toby Sowery.