INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – There’s no stopping Oliver Askew. The 20-year-old from Jupiter, Fla., captured his second win in as many days on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix road course – and his fifth in six starts – to strengthen his claim to the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and, potentially, a second consecutive Mazda Scholarship which would assist in graduation to the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy – the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – in 2018.
Teenaged Dutchman Rinus VeeKay, who earned the Staubli Award, finished second for Pabst Racing in this morning’s Mazda Road to Indy Grand Prix Presented by Royal Purple Supporting Lupus Foundation of America, while Kaylen Frederick, from Potomac, Md., profited from a last-lap incident to finish third for Team Pelfrey.
Following a full-course caution due to a multi-car incident in Turn One, Askew, who yesterday had secured his fourth straight pole position, pulled clear of his rivals by the completion of the first lap of green-flag racing.
VeeKay jumped ahead of front row starter Frederick into second place at the restart and quickly made the place his own, leaving Dakota Dickerson (Newman Wachs Racing), who made a lightning start to vault from seventh to fourth at the original start, to come under pressure from Robert Megennis (Team Pelfrey).
Canadian Parker Thompson slotted into fifth for Exclusive Autosport until a sticking throttle caused him to run briefly off the road and lose several positions on Lap 11. South African Callan O’Keeffe continued his strong showing on his North American debut for Team Benik, moving up into fifth before also running into mechanical difficulties, which eventually forced him to pull off course with less than five minutes remaining in the half-hour race.
The officials had no alternative but to call for a full-course caution, which ended with enough time for a one-lap dash to the checkered flag. Askew took the win by 1.2488 seconds over VeeKay, but following the race incurred a penalty notice for failing to follow Race Director instructions pertaining to restart procedures and has been placed on probation.
Behind, however, the battle for third ended in tears as Dickerson and Megennis collided in Turn Two, which left the way clear for Frederick to inherit the final podium position.
Thompson took advantage of the incident to dive past Kory Enders (DEForce Racing), from Warwick, N.Y., for fourth place, while Australian Luke Gabin secured his best finish of the season, sixth, for Exclusive Autosport. Gabin also earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award after fighting his way from 16th on the grid.
After routine technical inspection which followed yesterday’s race, cars #80 (Robert Megennis) and #81 (Kaylen Frederick) were disqualified per Rule 14.28.9. The revised result elevates Calvin Ming (Pabst Racing) to second place and Ricky Donison (Cape Motorsports) to third. Ming, from Guyana, and Donison, from Bangalore, India, became the first drivers from their respective nations to stand on a Mazda Road to Indy podium.
Askew now leads the championship by a 60-point margin over VeeKay, 188-128, after six rounds of competition. The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will head next to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., for two more races in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on June 23-25.
Oliver Askew (#3 Mazda Motorsports/MC Racing-Cape Motorsports): “I definitely didn’t want to see that yellow. I had such a big lead and then to have to regroup and try to figure out how to break away again was tough. I had to make a plan and execute it. Our pace here is fantastic; the Cape team gave me a great car. I tried not to look in my mirrors, especially at the start – I just went to Turn One as deep as I could and tried not to get hit from behind, because that’s the only way that I could get passed. But like I said yesterday, it’s surreal. I’m just living in the present and doing my job the best that I can, and that’s working out. It’s still a steep learning curve, as this is my first full season in cars, but I really appreciate the opportunity from Mazda and the car that the Cape boys have given me. It’s a highlight of the day, seeing them waving their hands and going crazy as I cross the line. It’s so cool to see them and all the fans. I really appreciate their support.”
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires the following year. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com.
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook.
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.com, www.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.