By Steve Wittich
Andretti Autosport and especially rookie Oliver Askew had the field covered in qualifying and will start in the first three spots of Saturday’s first race. Askew’s quickest lap of 115.545 seconds was over a half-second ahead of teammates.
The 22-year-old, who will start on the pole for the 13th time in his Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires career told TSO Ladder after the session that today’s qualifying gap was likely the largest he’s had since early in his karting career.
The Jupiter, Fla. based driver also credited his smooth driving style with his advantage and that the warmer it is, the better it is for him.
Qualifying for the first Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix Presented By Allied Building Products rolled off at 1:20 pm. The skies were blue, the ambient temperature was 75F, the track temperature was 99F, and the humidity was at 49%
The drivers are required to start the session on a set of sticker Cooper Tire slicks and were just getting them warmed up when the red flag came out only four minutes into the session when Claman’s No. 13 came to a stop on track in Turn 17. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team was able to flat tow the Canadian back to pit road.
Claman told the Advance Autoparts INDYCAR Radio Network they were still diagnosing the issue, but he was not expecting to go back out and will be forced to start at the tail end of the field.
The green flag came back out with just over 22 minutes left in the 30-minute session.
At the halfway point of the half-hour session, Oliver Askew was on provisional pole with a lap at 116.359 seconds, but the tires were still coming up to temperature. The remainder of the top five was Megennis, VeeKay, Norman, and Malukas.
After an issue with the power plant in the morning session, the No 4 Belardi Auto Racing crew was able to install a new engine and get Julien Falchero out on track for the second half of qualifying and turn some hot laps and will start eighth.
With just over five minutes left, Norman quickly went to provisional pole, but only a few seconds later Askew took back the top spot by a half-second.
Teammates Megennis and Norman traded the second spot a few times in the last few minutes, but it was the veteran who will start on the outside of the front row.
Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix Presented By Allied Building Products Qualifying Results #1 Results
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||FAST LAP||DIFFERENCE||TOTAL LAPS|
|1||28||Oliver Askew||Andretti Autosport||1:55.545||–.—-||11|
|2||48||Ryan Norman||Andretti Autosport||1:56.065||0.5194||11|
|3||27||Robert Megennis||Andretti Autosport||1:56.083||0.5379||10|
|4||2||Toby Sowery||BN Racing/Team Pelfrey||1:56.269||0.7238||12|
|5||79||David Malukas||BN Racing||1:56.396||0.8510||12|
|6||21||Rinus VeeKay||Juncos Racing||1:56.397||0.8515||11|
|7||5||Lucas Kohl||Belardi Auto Racing||1:57.251||1.7055||12|
|8||4||Julien Falchero||Belardi Auto Racing||1:57.393||1.8479||7|
|9||67||Dalton Kellett||Juncos Racing||1:57.942||2.3969||12|
|10||13||Zachary Claman||Belardi Auto Racing||No Time||—||—|
The next activity for the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires drivers is the autograph session in the IndyCar village at 3:30 pm.
The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires drivers will be back on track at 9:15 am for their second qualifying session of the weekend tomorrow morning, and the 20-lap first race will get the green flag at 12:45 pm.