AUSTIN, Texas – Pole sitter Oliver Askew fended off a late restart Sunday to sweep the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires doubleheader weekend at Circuit of The Americas.
The 22-year-old Florida native started from the pole for the third consecutive race in the No. 28 Index Invest Dallara IL-15 for Andretti Autosport. Unlike Saturday’s dominant flag-to-flag performance at COTA, he fell behind teammate Robert Megennis (No. 27 Cybersecurity) almost immediately as the field entered Turn 1.
Askew remained in the leader’s shadow until eventually making the pass for the win at Turn 12 on Lap 6 of 20 around the 20-turn, 3.41-mile permanent road course.
When Zachary Claman suffered a mechanical failure to bring on a full-course caution, drama ensued with on a restart with four laps to go. However, Askew made a clean getaway and managed the gap to cross the finish line by 2.2256 seconds ahead of Megennis.
“It is way more satisfying when you have to work for it like that,” Askew said. “Honestly, I thought it was going to be a lot harder to get by Rob, but we raced each other really respectfully. I saw his tires start to go away a little bit and made the commitment to use the push-to-pass around all the straightaways and got a good run coming out of Turn 12.”
The weekend sweep of pole positions and race wins at COTA helped Askew recover from a last-place finish in the second race at St. Petersburg, Florida, two weeks ago. He grabbed the points lead by six over Rinus VeeKay, who finished fourth in Sunday’s race.
“Super happy. I'm really happy for everybody on the No. 28 Index Invest car and everybody at Andretti Autosport,” Askew said. “We took the championship lead and also the team lead as well.
“Hopefully, we can keep this going for the month of May.”
Although David Malukas (No. 79 HMD Trucking) started last on the 10-car the grid, the BN Racing driver made the methodical climb towards the front to finish third and collect his first Indy Lights podium.
“It was intense,” Malukas said. “I had a good strategy. Once the first couple of laps started, I had a bit of a gap to everybody else, so I could save my push-to-passes.
“I knew that they were going to run out at some point, so I just told Bryn (Nuttal, team owner) on the radio, 'Let me know when everybody runs out of push-to-pass, I'm going to hang back a little bit and save my tires.' And then once they ran out of push-to-pass, that's when I pushed really hard with the car.”
All three Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires levels – Indy Lights, Indy Pro 2000 Championship presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – are idle until the May 9-11 weekend on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Each series will conduct a doubleheader race weekend.