Pole sitter Oliver Askew went flag to flag to take a commanding victory in the opening race for Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Piloting the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Dallara IL-15, the 22-year-old from Jupiter, Florida, managed the lead handily for all 30 laps to claim his fifth win of the season by 4.0665 seconds over teammate Ryan Norman (No. 48 Andretti Autosport).
Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Juncos Racing) managed to get around Robert Megennis (No. 28 Andretti Autosport) with six laps to go to complete the climb from sixth on the grid to the third and final spot on the podium.
Additionally, the win enabled Askew to extend his lead in the overall championship standings to 35 points over VeeKay (317-282).
“That was a bit difficult in the beginning, but about six laps in the track started coming in and I could push harder and harder,” Askew said.
“The car was really good. Big thanks to everybody at Index Invest, Stellrecht Company, Wavelength Images and everyone watching at home. Yeah, big day for us and big points day, too.”
Askew will start the second race of the doubleheader weekend from pole after setting a new track record at 1 minute, 10.879 seconds (114.801 mph) in qualifying. The green flag will wave for the top rung of the Road to Indy at 12:45 p.m. ET on Sunday and will be streamed live on NBC Sports Gold.
Kirkwood wins frantic Indy Pro 2000 race
Pole sitter Kyle Kirkwood captured the flag-to-flag victory in an action-packed first leg of the doubleheader weekend for Indy Pro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires.
The driver of the No. 28 RP Motorsport Racing Tatuus PM-18 made a clean getaway on multiple restarts, which included a two lap dash at the end, and led all 25 laps to beat rival and championship leader Rasmus Lindh (No. 10 Juncos Racing) by 2.7028 seconds.
"From myself, that race was easy but the entire season leading up to it hasn't been easy so it makes up for it,” said Kirkwood.
“So finally I think we've got a really good car that I'm confident with. Our momentum is huge, so that's what's making it easy right now - but it really isn't easy."
Ian Rodriguez (No. 5 RP Motorsport Racing) managed to move up from fifth to third to claim the last step on the podium.
Parker Thomspson (No. 8 Abel Motorsports), who came into the weekend second in points, retired on Lap 4 with a gearbox issue and finished a lowly 11th.
With four wins in the last five races, Kirkwood now moves into second in the championship battle, trailing Lindh by 23 points (251-228).
Kirkwood will look for an encore performance after earning the pole for the second race, which will start at 10 a.m. on Sunday and will stream live at racecontrol.indycar.com.
Rasmussen coasts to victory in USF2000
Christian Rasmussen was untouchable en route to a dominating performance in the opening race in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.
After starting second in the No. 6 Jay Howard Driver Development Tatuus USF-17, Rasmussen got the jump on pole sitter Hunter McElrea (No. 22 Pabst Racing) and coasted to lead all 20 laps while scoring a remarkable 9.5753-second margin of victory.
"It was a great race,” Rasmussen said. “I led from the beginning all the way to the end and I think I won by what, around 10 seconds. It was great. (We have) definitely turned the season around coming off from some not good results in the first half, so hopefully we can just keep continue building this momentum and do the same thing tomorrow."
McElrea, who also scored the pole for the second race, picked up some valuable points with the runner-up result, while teammate Colin Kaminsky (No. 23 Pabst Racing) finished third.
Championship leader Braden Eves (No. 8 Cape Motorsports) struggled with pace throughout the race and could only collect an eighth-place finish.
The final race of the doubleheader weekend for the bottom rung of the Road to Indy will start at 11:05 a.m. on Sunday and will stream live on racecontrol.indycar.com.