It was déjà vu for the field as Oliver Askew once again went flag-to-flag from pole to score the weekend sweep in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The 22-year-old from Jupiter, Florida, simply overpowered his rivals in the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Dallara IL-15 right from the drop of the green flag to lead all 30 laps and cruise to a 5.2430-second victory over runner-up Toby Sowery (No. 2 BN Racing/Team Pelfrey).
“The more time I spend with these guys at Andretti Autosport, the more time I spend in this car, the better we’re all going to get,” Askew said. “It’s the same for everybody else, but I’m trying to work harder than everybody else.”
It marks the third consecutive win – sixth of the season – for Askew. Now, he holds a 45-point advantage (349-304) in the championship over rival and today’s third-place finisher, Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Juncos Racing). Despite the sizeable lead in the overall standings, Askew has no plans to become conservative.
“We’ve just got to keep pushing and winning races – that’s all I’m worried about,” Askew said.
With five races remaining on the season, VeeKay will look to go back to the drawing board in hopes to finding a way to make one final push for the title.
“We have to sit down and try to see if we can improve more,” VeeKay said. “As a driver, I think just train harder and work harder.”
Kirkwood wins again, narrows championship gap in Indy Pro 2000
Pole sitter Kyle Kirkwood once again went flag-to-flag to claim to win and claim the weekend sweep in Indy Pro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires.
The driver of the No. 28 RP Motorsport Racing Tatuus PM-18 was out front and in control of the race for all 25 laps, beating rival Sting Ray Robb (No. 2 Juncos Racing) by a comfortable 3.4783 seconds.
Championship leader Rasmus Lindh (No. 10 Juncos Racing) finished third to maintain his streak of consistency.
“It has a lot to do with our car setup,” Kirkwood said. “Right now, the RP Motorsport team in the Indy Pro 2000 category has got the car on rails. It’s been like that since Road America.”
It marks the fifth win over the last six races for Kirkwood, who sits second in the overall championship and closed the deficit to Lindh to just 13 points (284-271).
Parker Thompson (No. 8 Abel Motorsports) rebounded from a gearbox Saturday to score a solid fourth-place finish Sunday. Ian Rodriguez (No. 5 RP Motorsport Racing) crossed the finish line fifth.
McElrea finds victory, tightens title race in USF2000
Pole sitter Hunter McElrea executed a flawless race to win the second leg of the doubleheader weekend for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.
Piloting the No. 22 Pabst Racing Tatuus USF-17, McElrea led all 20 laps to finish 0.5652 of a second ahead of Christian Rasmussen (No. 6 Jay Howard Driver Development). Colin Kaminsky (No. 23 Pabst Racing) picked up the third and final spot on the podium.
“We had a really good car this weekend, credit to Pabst Racing for the amazing car,” McElrea said. “From there, it was just about extending the gap every lap. Yeah, (it was) just a perfect race from lights to flag with the fastest lap, so I couldn’t be happier!”
Zach Crawford (No. 14 Legacy Autosport) and Jak Crawford (No. 4 Cape Motorsports) finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Meanwhile, Darren Keane (No. 6 Cape Motorsports) put in a masterstroke drive to charge from 17th on the grid to finish sixth.
The miserable weekend continued for Braden Eves (No. 8 Cape Motorsports) after finishing seventh, with the only positive being that he leaves the 13-turn, 2.28-mile road course with the championship lead. With McElrea taking his second win of 2019, however, the gap has now closed as Eves holds just a nine point advantage (260-251).
The championship battle for Indy Lights and Indy Pro 2000 continues on to the 1.25-mile oval known as World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on Aug. 23-24. Meanwhile, USF2000 will return and join the other two rungs of the Road to Indy the following weekend when they head to Portland International Raceway for Labor Day Weekend on Aug. 29-Sept. 1.