OBSERVATIONS: Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products
Circuit of the Americas has quickly gained a reputation as one of the best circuits to race at in the United States, just as fast as Oliver Askew is proving his ability behind the wheel.
The 22-year-old burst onto the scene in 2017 when he won the Mazda Shootout, giving him a scholarship to run USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires full-time. He then backed it up by winning seven of the 14 events en route to the championship. That was then followed up by nine top-five’s in his rookie Indy Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires campaign.
His quick showcase of talent has allowed him to speed through the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires quickly, now competing in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires this season with Andretti Autosport. If there were any doubts about partnering him with the defending champions, those are erased now.
This past weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, he swept the weekend to go with a podium at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to open the season. Four races into his rookie campaign, he has two wins, a third, and a 10th-place finish due to contact.
Andretti Autosport proved last year they had the dominant combination in Indy Lights with Patricio O’Ward and Colton Herta. Askew is already proving that he can carry the banner this year, as long as he escapes trouble in these events.
If Askew is slowed by anything, though, his teammate Robert Megennis can easily pick up the slack. He scored a pair of podium finishes in the
Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products, a solid rebound after struggling in St. Petersburg.
Megennis started off by leading laps in the second race, too, though admitted post-race that he drove too hard, wearing out the tires. With a slight change of driving style as he continues to get used to the car, he could be the fourth different driver to visit victory lane when the series visits Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
While it may appear as though everything is on-track for a dominant Andretti Autosport campaign, that cannot be written in stone yet. They failed to win in St. Petersburg, with Juncos Racing’ Rinus Veekay and Belardi Auto Racing’s Zachary Claman splitting honors. Expect them to come back fighting harder in May.
As the competition looks to be strong, you can only hope that translate over to the racing on-track. The start to the second race this weekend was great, and Ryan Norman took some chances throughout running wide, but other than that – it seemed the racers were in a single-file train. The only saving grace was a late-race restart allowing David Malukas to set-up the pass on Toby Sowery and take the final spot on the podium. Other than that, it’s safe to say it was like watching paint dry sometimes.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway usually produces a solid road course event, and a dramatic event on the oval. Let’s hope that is in the cards once again this year.
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