Story Credit: Road to Indy PR
Photo Credit: Road to Indy Photo
MONTEREY, Calif. – Rinus VeeKay might not have won this year’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship trophy but he certainly demonstrated his class during this weekend’s Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products. VeeKay, 19, from Hoofddorp, Netherlands, claimed a complete sweep at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, securing two pole positions, two race wins and two fastest race laps, and for the second day in a row he led all 30 laps en route to an emphatic victory for Juncos Racing.
After tying up the championship yesterday for Andretti Autosport, Oliver Askew, from Jupiter, Fla., finished second in this morning’s 18th and final round. Toby Sowery, from Cambridge, England, completed an impressive final phase of the season by finishing third for HMD Motorsports/Team Pelfrey.
Tomorrow at the Road to Indy Championship Celebration Awards Banquet in nearby Monterey, Calif., Askew will pick up the champion’s trophy and a scholarship valued at $1.1 million to guarantee entry into a minimum of three NTT IndyCar Series races in 2020, including the 104th Indianapolis 500.
Significantly cooler conditions this morning made not a lot of difference to VeeKay, who capitalized on his pole position to take the lead as the field headed uphill past the pits and then downhill into the heaviest braking area of the track at Turn Two, the Mario Andretti Hairpin. A good start by Sowery from third on the grid briefly elevated him to second place, but Askew was having none of it and promptly drove around the outside at Turn Two, keeping his nerve and then sneaking back into second place at Turn Three.
VeeKay and Askew traded fastest laps during the first seven laps before VeeKay turned the best lap of the race at 1:16.4032, an average speed of 105.451 mph on Lap Seven. He then carded another 1:06.51 on his next time around the 2.238-mile road course to finally eke out a significant margin for the first time. A series of consistently fast laps enabled VeeKay to stretch his advantage to over three seconds by Lap 20, by which time the game was clearly up for Askew, who settled for second place and eventually took the checkered flag almost six seconds behind his rival.
The victory was VeeKay’s sixth of the season and his 15th in total on the Road to Indy in the span of just three years. He always pocketed the Tilton Hard Charger Award.
Sowery finished on the podium for the third time in as many races, well clear of Robert Megennis, from New York, N.Y., who pulled off the move of the race with a bold inside pass of Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Norman, from Aurora, Ohio, under braking for the Mario Andretti Hairpin on Lap Seven.
Provisional championship points after 18 of 18 races:
1. Oliver Askew, 486
2. Rinus VeeKay, 465
3. Toby Sowery, 367
4. Ryan Norman, 359
5. Robert Megennis, 355
6. David Malukas, 301
7. Dalton Kellett, 275
8. Lucas Kohl, 253
9. Aaron Telitz, 133
10. Zachary Claman, 124