By Steve Wittich

Oliver Askew began the race weekend at Circuit of The Americas in the same position he ended the February test at the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course. On top of the timesheet.

The Andretti Autosport rookie turned a lap at 116.384 seconds, and the top six drivers were within one second of the 22-year-old.

Toby Sowery, who is back with BN Racing/Team Pelfrey for a second event, was the only driver in the field who did not test at the Austin, Texas area track in February, ended with the second quickest lap.

Also within a second of Askew were Sowery’s teammate David Malukas, St. Petersburg Race #2 winner Rinus VeeKay, and Andretti Autosport’s Robert Megennis and Ryan Norman.

Points leader Zachary Claman ended up 1.5 seconds behind Askew and the veteran and his Belardi Auto Racing engineer Tim Neff have some work to do to make up that difference.

The first official track activity for the inaugural INDYCAR Classic at Circuit of The Americas was a 45-minute Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires practice session.

The session began promptly at 9 am under partly cloudy skies with ambient temperature at a cool 56F and the temperature of the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course at 64F.

With 25-minutes left in the session, Julien Falchero brought his No.4 Belardi Auto Racing AER/Dallara IL-15 to pit road. The team removed the engine cover and flames began coming out of the exhaust. The fire was extinguished, and the car was brought back to the paddock with what appeared to (me at least) to be an issue with the turbo.

With twenty minutes remaining in the session, the running order was Malukas, Askew, VeeKay, Megennis, Norman (Andretti Autosport), Claman (Belardi Auto Racing), Sowery, Dalton Kellett (Juncos Racing), Lucas Kohl (Belardi Auto Racing) and Falchero.

Askew went to the top of the timesheet with ten minutes remaining and kept that spot throughout the session. Teams remained on scuffed tires throughout the session, so times are not representative of what to expect in qualifying this afternoon.

Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix Presented By Allied Building Products Practice #1 Results

1 28 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport 1:56.384 –.—- 16
2 2 Toby Sowery BN Racing/Team Pelfrey 1:56.618 0.2335 18
3 79 David Malukas BN Racing 1:56.986 0.6012 12
4 21 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing 1:57.211 0.8269 18
5 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:57.217 0.8327 16
6 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport 1:57.485 1.1007 14
7 13 Zachary Claman Belardi Auto Racing 1:57.950 1.5660 16
8 67 Dalton Kellett Juncos Racing 1:58.352 1.9672 18
9 5 Lucas Kohl Belardi Auto Racing 1:58.621 2.2371 17
10 4 Julien Falchero Belardi Auto Racing 2:00.361 3.9762 4

The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires drivers will be back on track at 1:20 pm for their first qualifying session of the weekend.