When the Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire series came to the Pacific Northwest for the final two races of the 2018 season, Rinus VeeKay and Parker Thompson were ensconced in the first two spots of the championship, but a third-place check for $20,000 and the Indy Lights test that goes with it was still up for grabs.
The first driver in contention, Oliver Askew won Saturday’s first race. David Malukas, who was six points in arrears of Askew when the race weekend began, finished a disappointing fourth.
That left the 16-year-old driver 18 points adrift of Askew for third in the championship. The BN Racing driver, who started on the outside of the front row, did all he could, leading all 30 laps on the way to his third win of the season.
“Yesterday we ended up finishing fourth,” explained Malukas to TSO Ladder. “We knew we had the pace and today we wanted to end strong. We knew we had pace on the start and I tried not to make mistakes.”
Askew started third and for the fourth time in six races finished on the podium to end up in third in the championship by a 303 to 295 lap margin.
VeeKay, who clinched the championship by taking the green flag for Friday’s practice, finished on the podium for the ninth time this season. The soon to be 18-year-old scored his 21st podium in 29 career Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires starts.
The final Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire race was scheduled to start at 2:15 PM, but was delayed due to an exciting Verizon IndyCar Series race that had Takuma Sato winning his third career race.
The front row of VeeKay and Malukas led the field across the start/finish line, but it was Thompson, who started on the outside of the second row that got to Turn 1 first on the outside of Malukas and VeeKay.
VeeKay clattered across the curbs while Malukas provided an impressive smoke show after locking up his brakes. Thompson was not able to get the No. 90 Exclusive Autosport machine rotated to the apex of Turn 2. That allowed Askew to grab the final spot on the podium.
Behind them, Sting Ray Robb and Moisés de la Vara made contact. The DEForce Racing #12 lost it’s front wing, and it appeared that Robb had some rear suspension damage.
Thompson lost another spot, this time to Robert Megennis and the running order at the end of the first lap was Malukas, VeeKay, Askew, Meggennis, Thompson, Nikia Lastochkin, and Moisés de la Vara.
Robb and de la Vara were forced to pit road for repairs. Team Pelfrey and DEForce Racing were able to make repairs but both lost multiple laps, finishing sixth and eighth respectively.
On the next lap, Thompson came to pit road with what was reported at a flat right rear tire.
Thompson came out just in-front of Malukas, but quickly let the leader by, slotting in between the leader and VeeKay in 2nd.
By Lap 13, Askew was looking to get past VeeKay. The 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda champion looked to the outside, but couldn’t get the pass done.
On Lap 17, Megennis and his No. 9 Juncos Racing Mazda/Tatuus came to pit road. The Juncos Racing did get back on track, but ended up retiring after 16 laps.
Up front, Malukas had a 4.4989 lead over VeeKay, who was still being forced to defend against Askew who continued to pressure the new champion.
VeeKay was able to pull away through the Festival Curves and Turns 4, 5 and 6. Askew was able to close up from the exit of Turn 7 through Turn 12.
With five laps left Malukas lead was still 4.5 seconds. Askew was still pressuring the Dutchman for second place.
With two laps remaining, Askew turned the quickest lap of the race in an effort to catch VeeKay for second, but the pilot of the Juncos Racing No. 2 was only a few-hundredths off of Askew’s torrid pace.
Askew turned the quickest lap of the race as he took the white flag, starting the final lap only 3/10ths behind VeeKay, but Saturday’s winner was not able to get around VeeKay. That duo ended the race 3.5 seconds behind Malukas.
Lastochkin equaled his best finish of the year from Race #2 in Toronto with his fourth-place finish.
Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire Race #2 – unofficial results
|5||90||Parker Thompson||29||1 LAPS|
|6||82||Sting Ray Robb||19||11 LAPS|
|8||12||Moises de la Vara||5||Contact|