AUSTIN, Texas – Pole sitter Oliver Askew put in a dominating performance to capture his maiden victory in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, in Saturday’s opening race of the doubleheader weekend at Circuit of The Americas.
The 22-year-old Florida native took command from the drop of the green flag in the No. 28 Index Invest Dallara IL-15 for Andretti Autosport, leading all 20 laps and crossing the finish line 24.6800 seconds ahead of new championship leader Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Mazda/Jumbo Supermarkets/La Place Restaurants/KNAF Talent First Dallara IL-15 for Juncos Racing).
It provided vindication for Askew after a frustrating race weekend two weeks ago at St. Petersburg, Florida, when contact with VeeKay ended his race despite starting on pole.
“There's a lot of anger inside, so I'll try to try to hold that for as long as I can,” Askew said.
“My main focus was just to get through Turn 1 clean and then I knew that we were going to have a really fast race car. So just hit my marks for the first couple of laps and then pull the gap on Toby (Sowery), who looked quite quick for the opening couple of laps. Just an unbelievable job on my whole team, and hopefully we can keep it going for (Race 2 on Sunday).
“I think we've made a big statement here this weekend. I don't want to get too complacent because it's a lot easier for the guys to catch up behind us. So we’ve just got to keep working ahead and keep progressing.”
With the win, Askew became the eighth driver to win on all three levels of the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, joining Matthew Brabham, Victor Franzoni, Nico Jamin, Sage Karam, Spencer Pigot, Aaron Telitz and VeeKay.
Robert Megennis (No. 27 Cybersecurity Dallara IL-15 for Andretti Autosport) finished third after a flurry of on-track battles with Sowery and VeeKay.
"The race was out of control,” Megennis conceded. “The first half was back and forth with Toby and the last five laps were back and forth with Rinus. It's so much fun. The long straights and the push-to-pass around here make for some really good racing.
“I haven't done a race that fun in my entire life.”
Askew kept the momentum rolling and won the pole for the second race. He will lead the field to green at 10:10 a.m. ET Sunday. The race streams live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold.