After Oliver Askew won five straight Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda races in the first half of the season, a lot of people locked him as the series title holder. However, the trophy engraving may have begun a little too soon.
Entering the season finale on Saturday at Watkins Glen International, Askew only holds a 13-point advantage over Rinus Veekay.
Since winning the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout to get the scholarship to run this season, Askew has been fast and nearly unstoppable. His statistics will ultimately go down as some of the best in series history, with seven victories and 11 podium finishes in 13 races.
“I have been working harder than I ever have to secure this championship,” Askew said. “I think the same can be said about Cape Motorsports and everyone around me that has helped get to this point. We all want this, and if we keep doing what we have been every race so far this season, I don’t see a reason why it can’t happen. The mindset that I’ve developed throughout this year will be the same in the final race – I will be focusing on the elements within my control and will maximize the opportunity given to me.”
Though he’s been fast, he slipped up twice this season. He finished 17th at Road America following a steering rack issue, and then was caught up in a crash in Toronto en route to placing 12th.
Both times, Rinus Veekay has been right there to capitalize, consistently scoring points over the year with no finishes outside of the top-six, including 11 podiums. Although those results are strong, they haven’t proven enough when compared to Askew’s victories.
When the green flag drops on Saturday, though, don’t expect Veekay to be thinking about that.
“You start the race and just forget about everything else. Otherwise, you can go crazy,” Veekay said. “Don’t worry about plans, just react to what’s happening. But to get 11 podiums in 13 races so far is a great year. It was a difficult beginning, but to get where we are now – I was reading on Twitter the other day, and I didn’t realize it, but I have never lost a position in a race. I have equaled my qualifying position or moved up. It was the best start you can have in your first year in racing.”
So who holds the advantage here?
Askew has proven to be quick on a weekly basis, and this weekend should be no different. If he can run up front and score another podium, the championship is easily his.
However, with 33 points on the table, any slip up could swing the results in Veekay’s favor. So Askew will be wanting to push hard and try to score another win, being a little conservative at times could be useful to protect the advantage.
EMAIL ASHLEY AT firstname.lastname@example.org
FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.