Askew Extends Indy Lights Points Lead with Fortuitous Toronto Win
TORONTO, Ont., Canada – Oliver Askew claimed his fourth race win of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season today for Andretti Autosport on the streets of Toronto. Askew, from Jupiter, Fla., was perfectly positioned to take advantage when pacesetters Aaron Telitz and Rinus VeeKay tangled in Turn Three on lap 25 of the 40-lap Cooper Tires Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products. He now leads the chase for a scholarship prize which includes a guaranteed three starts in the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series, including the 104th Indianapolis 500, by a relatively comfortable 25 points with seven races remaining.
Englishman Toby Sowery finished second for BN Racing/Team Pelfrey, while local favorite Dalton Kellett, from Stouffville, Ont., secured his best finish of the season, a popular third, for Juncos Racing.
After yesterday extending a slender three-point championship lead over VeeKay to six points after finishing second, one place ahead of his primary rival, Askew added another point to his tally by claiming the pole during qualifying this morning. At the first corner, however, Askew had little option then concede to an aggressive outbraking move from Saturday winner Telitz, who is competing on a race-to-race basis for Belardi Auto Racing. VeeKay also took advantage by nipping through into second place ahead of Askew, with Kellett slotting into fourth.
Telitz set a torrid pace from the outset, quickly establishing a small but appreciable advantage over VeeKay, but it wasn’t long before the Dutch teenager was into his stride and closing the gap down to just a few car lengths.
After a failed attempt to wrest away the lead at Turn Three on Lap 11, VeeKay settled back for a few laps before redoubling his efforts. On Lap 24, Telitz made an error under braking for Turn Eight and only narrowly averted disaster. VeeKay realized this might provide his best opportunity to make a move for the lead, and indeed he did just that on the fastest part of the track, Lake Shore Boulevard. VeeKay nosed alongside on the outside line, but in doing so left his braking just a fraction too late for Turn Three. Angling toward the apex and trying desperately to scrub off speed, VeeKay barely clipped the front of Telitz’s bright red Dallara before nosing into the tire barrier on the outside of the turn. Telitz, too, was unable to make the corner, but Askew, who had been following around 1.5 seconds behind, had no such trouble.
Once into the lead, Askew reeled off the remaining laps without incident to score a comfortable win by 6.8331 seconds over Sowery, who had overtaken Kellett at Turn Three in the early stages. Kellett finished a delighted third after holding off a determined late challenge from Ryan Norman (Andretti Autosport), from Aurora, Ohio, who started eighth, fell to last place on the opening lap, then worked his way through nicely to claim the Tilton Hard Charger Award.
Provisional championship points after 11 of 18 races:
1. Oliver Askew, 285
2. Rinus VeeKay, 260
3. Ryan Norman, 222
4. Robert Megennis, 218
5. Toby Sowery, 213
6. David Malukas, 175
7. Dalton Kellett, 163
8. Lucas Kohl, 150
9. Zachary Claman, 124
10. Aaron Telitz, 105
The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires title-chase will continue in two weeks’ time at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, with another pair of races to be held on July 27-28.
Oliver Askew (#28 Index Invest Dallara-Andretti Autosport Dallara-AER IL-15): “I didn’t get a good jump at the start so I was pacing myself early on. I probably used more push-to-pass than I should have, but I did save enough for the finish. I saw Aaron make a few mistakes and Rinus had a few opportunities in Turn Three – and I was having flashbacks to two years ago in USF2000, when a couple of cars crashed in front of me in that corner and I got taken out with them. It’s so easy to go wide and hit the wall there. I’m sorry for them but that’s what happens when you push the issue in that corner. I’m just glad I was far enough back to avoid them. Sometimes patience pays off and it definitely did today. To come away with a big points jump is great.
“I’m also really glad to finally get a win for my engineer, Doug Zister – this is his first win on his home track so I’m going to give this trophy to him.”
Toby Sowery (#2 Gap Guard/Rich Energy-BN Racing/Team Pelfrey Dallara-AER IL-15): “We had a good battle with Dalton at the start but then things settled down into something more strategic. I had to be smart with the push-to-pass and (the pass on Kellett) was more tactical overtaking rather than just full-on. Of course, I didn’t realize it would be for second place. When I saw Aaron and Rinus start to go at it, I thought ‘let’s go.’ I didn’t have the pace to keep up with Oliver but I’m happy with the result, we’ve taken a big step forward. I’ve gotten used to the street courses here in the States – I’m not sure if it’s a lack of self-preservation or what, but I think these tracks level out the playing field. We’re still new to this series and we’re learning more every race weekend.”
Dalton Kellett (#67 K-Line Insulators USA, Inc.-Juncos Racing Dallara-AER IL-15): “That was crazy. We have over 120 people out here this weekend: family, friends, K-Line partners. It was so great to compete in front of them and put on a good show. It’s been a tough weekend for me here in past years, a ‘Canadian curveball’ of sorts, but we’ve gotten over that now. It’s unfortunate for Aaron and Rinus but we were able to take advantage of the position we gained. We almost had a good battle with Ryan at the end but we were just far enough ahead to keep the position to the finish. I’m really proud of the job we’ve done as a team: it’s been a learning process with Juncos Racing and I think we’re hitting our stride now.”
About the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires: The Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is one of the most successful driver development programs in the world. Comprised of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the ladder system provides a unique, scholarship-funded path to the NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500. The NTT IndyCar Series grid is comprised of numerous drivers who have come through the Road to Indy. In 2019, 23 of the 33 starters in the Indianapolis 500 were graduates including nine Indy Lights champions. The mission of the Road to Indy is to develop and advance, and that includes not only drivers but teams and personnel as well. More information can be found at www.roadtoindy.info, www.indylights.com, www.indypro2000.com, www.usf2000.com, www.roadtoindy.tv and www.indycar.com.
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 Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the NTT IndyCar Series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track in rally, rallycross and short course off-road racing. 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. Connect with Cooper on Twitter and Instagram by following @TeamCooperTire or visit our website at www.coopertire.com.