Road to Indy
May 8, 2019 | 11:00 AM
After a long, five-week break between racing at Circuit of the Americas and returning to the home track in Speedway, the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship will heat up once again with two races this weekend.
The Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis will comprise rounds five and six of the 18-race season, with Andretti Autosport rookie Oliver Askew, from Jupiter, Fla., seeking to duplicate the form that saw him sweep the weekend at Circuit of The Americas, near Austin, Texas, in March.
Askew thereby leads the chase for a scholarship to ensure entry into at least three IndyCar races in 2020, including the 104th Indianapolis 500.
Askew, 22, has only been racing cars for two seasons following a stellar career in karting but is already the track record holder at Indianapolis in both USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000. He won two races at Indy from the pole on his way to the USF2000 championship crown in 2017, and last year was fastest in qualifying for both Indy Pro races.
Askew also set the pace on Day Two of the end-of-season Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy Test last fall – his very first experience in a 450-horsepower Dallara-AER IL-15 – and this week will attempt to go for the trifecta.
“I think both the Andretti Autosport team and myself have built up a lot of momentum and confidence since our last event at Circuit of the Americas,” said Askew this week.
“We are only focused on extracting as much speed out of the car as possible, I think the speed and results will come as long as we keep executing under every circumstance.”
Askew currently holds a slender six-point edge over long-time rival Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing). The Dutch teenager finished second to fellow rookie Askew in the 2017 USF2000 title-chase, then last year took the Indy Pro 2000 series by storm, winning six times en route to the championship title.
VeeKay shared the victory spoils in Florida with Canada’s Zachary Claman, who added a second-place finish in Race Two for Belardi Auto Racing to claim the early points lead. The Montreal, Que., native will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing weekend in Texas, where he managed no better than seventh from the pair of road course events.
Askew also will be looking over his shoulder at Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Norman, who has endured a disappointing start to his third season of Indy Lights after beginning as a firm title favorite, and Robert Megennis.
Norman, from Aurora, Ohio, was the only driver to (narrowly) out-pace Askew at the Road to Indy test last September, while rookie Megennis, from New York, N.Y., twice finished on the podium in Texas and led the opening five laps of Race Two before losing out to Askew.
Looking ahead to his first Indy Lights start on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Megennis is excited to continue his own momentum from September’s Chris Griffis test.
“I’m so excited to get the month of May started on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course,” said Megennis. “I love the track, it always makes for great racing, and we finished the last session of the September Chris Griffis test there P1.
“I’m still on a high from my double podium at COTA, and I’m just looking to keep the momentum going. I can’t wait to get to work again with Andretti Autosport, CyberArk, Optiv, Palo Alto Networks and Sailpoint.”
Toby Sowery, from Cambridge, England, made a stunning Indy Lights debut at St. Petersburg by securing two podium finishes, despite joining BN Racing/Team Pelfrey mere days before the opening weekend of the season. He was out of luck in the next two races in Texas, although BN Racing teammate David Malukas, the youngest driver in the field at age 17, was able to pick up the slack.
Malukas, from Chicago, Ill., stormed from 10th on the grid to third in Race Two to back up his pair of solid fourth-place finishes in Florida.
Canadian Dalton Kellett will drive a second Juncos Racing entry, while Brazilian Lucas Kohl will join Claman at Belardi Auto Racing as he continues to find his feet after stepping up from USF2000.
The on-track action will commence with a pair of 50-minute tests on Thursday, May 9, followed by a lone official practice session. Qualifying at 10:10 a.m. EDT on Friday will form the grid for Race One which is set for a green flag at 1:30 p.m. A separate qualifying session at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday will decide the starting order for Race Two at 1:15 p.m., immediately prior to the IndyCar Grand Prix headline event.
In the U.S., both 60-minute races will air live and on-demand on NBC Sports Gold with practice and qualifying coverage carried via live streaming on the Road to Indy TV App, RoadToIndy.TV, indylights.com, and indycar.com. Internationally, all practice, qualifying and race events will be live streamed on the Road to Indy TV App, RoadToIndy.TV and at indylights.com.
Additional coverage can also be found on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts which airs live on network affiliates, Sirius 216, XM 209, indycar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile App powered by NTT Data.
Header image and content by Road to Indy.