Story Credit: Road to Indy PR
Photo Credit: Road to Indy Photo
The focus of this afternoon’s race, once again held in perfect summer weather in front of a bumper crowd in advance of the Honda Indy 200 NTT IndyCar Series headline event, instead was on the battle for second.
Englishman Toby Sowery (BN Racing/Team Pelfrey) couldn’t match Askew’s pace, especially in the second half of the race, but he just managed to fend off the attentions of Askew’s primary title rival, Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing), after a race-long battle.
Askew laid down a marker to the field yesterday, winning the opening race of the weekend and ensuring himself of pole position for Race Two by posting a new record qualifying lap of 1:10.8079, an average speed of 114.801 mph. He duly led the field into Turn One at the start, although behind him there was drama as fourth and fifth-place qualifiers Robert Megennis (Andretti Autosport), from New York, N.Y., and Dalton Kellett (Juncos Racing), from Stouffville, Ont., Canada, barely touched wheels at the apex of the corner. The impact was nevertheless enough to pitch Kellett into a spin and cause both Megennis and a following Aaron Telitz (Belardi Auto Racing), from Birchwood, Wis., to run wide through the grass and gravel.
After a brief full-course caution, Askew took off into the lead and then took advantage of a tight scrap behind him between VeeKay, who started second, and Sowery to complete the first lap of green-flag racing a commanding 2.6 seconds clear.
Next time around, as Sowery made use of his push-to-pass feature to power past VeeKay on the main straight, Askew’s lead was extended to more than three seconds. He settled into a comfortable pace for a while, but as soon as he realized Sowery had closed almost to within range of the push-to-pass activation gap, 1.5 seconds, Askew put his head down once again and began to edge away. Askew’s string of impressively fast and consistent laps – plus his final flourish to reclaim fastest lap from VeeKay on the final tour – ensured he crossed the finish line a comfortable 5.2430 seconds clear.
VeeKay was unable to displace Sowery, despite an intense effort, but still finished well ahead of Ryan Norman (Andretti Autosport), from Aurora, Ohio. David Malukas (BN Racing), from Chicago, Ill., recorded his second top-five finish of the weekend and collected the Tilton Hard Charger Award. Next up was Telitz, who recovered from a second incident with Megennis immediately after the early restart to catch and pass Brazilian teammate Lucas Kohl in the closing stages.
Askew’s commanding weekend was the first time any single driver had swept both poles, race wins, fastest laps and led every lap since the introduction of the Dallara-AER IL-15 in 2015. Jack Harvey was the last man to accomplish the feat, also at Mid-Ohio, in 2014. Askew now leads VeeKay by 45 points, 349-304, as the contenders head next to Worldwide Technology Raceway at Gateway in Madison, Ill., for Round 14 out of 18 on August 24.
Provisional championship points after 13 of 18 races:
1. Oliver Askew, 349
2. Rinus VeeKay, 304
3. Ryan Norman, 266
4. Toby Sowery, 250
5. Robert Megennis, 249
6. David Malukas, 209
7. Dalton Kellett, 190
8. Lucas Kohl, 179
9. Aaron Telitz, 133
10. Zachary Claman, 124