Juncos Racing rookie Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) credited a dominant win on Sunday with on some of what he learned after a drive-thru penalty on Saturday.
“It helped me quite a lot,” answered VeeKay when asked about Saturday’s comeback drive translating to Sunday. “Yesterday, I got a drive-thru penalty and I didn’t have anything to lose. So, I pushed every lap, and I learned what the tires could handle. I took everything that I learned, and I didn’t make many mistakes today. The team gave me a great car. It’s amazing having these guys around me and helping me win.”
The Dutchman’s third win of the season is the 13th of his short Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires career and moves him to within three points of Indy Lights points leader Oliver Askew.
The 18-year-old joins Victor Franzoni as a Juncos Racing Indy Lights race winner at Road America.
Askew, who dealt with a mechanical issue, that limited him to a fifth-place finish on Saturday, also rebounded on Sunday, finishing on the bottom step of the podium. It’s the seventh time the 22-year-old has visited the podium this year and 23rd time in his 39 race Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires career.
“I had a more aggressive start today than yesterday, but I ran out of push-to-pass early, trying to stay with Ryan (Norman), which was unfortunate, because my car was at its best late in the race,” said Askew. “It was a good fight with both my teammates, so I think we gave the fans a good show. I didn’t expect to leave this weekend with the points lead, given how strong Rinus is here, so I’m happy with the result. I’m so proud of the No. 28 crew – I’ve never had big success here and we didn’t test here, so I’m happy to come away with two podiums. I’m looking forward to the upcoming races, and I know we’ll be stronger going forward.”
The Ryan that Askew mentions is his Andretti Autosport Ryan Norman. Saturday’s race winner extended his podium streak to three races and made up ground on the points leader for the second straight race.
The highlight of the 20-lap race was Norman’s quick re-pass of Askew, with a bold move in turn 5.
The 21-year-old began the weekend at Road America fifth in the hunt for the NTT IndyCar Series scholarship, 62 points out of first place and leaves in fourth place, within 45 points of Askew.
“We had a great battle with (Oliver) Askew,” said the smiling veteran after the race. “My tires were falling off a little quicker than yesterday so I was getting really loose in the high speed corners. Oliver was catching me in Turns 1 and 3, but I was able to pull away in the back of the track. It was definitely an exciting race. I was just trying to put together some clean laps towards the end there because I knew Oliver might be catching up. I knew he didn’t have much push-to-pass so I felt pretty secure but just had to keep putting together clean laps. Thank you to Andretti Autosport and Three Chord for a successful weekend at Road America.”
The ambient temperature was 64F, and the track temperature was 72F (which was 30 degrees cooler than yesterday) when the command was given for the drivers to fire up the turbocharged 2.0L AER engines.
After a single pace lap, and for the second straight race, pole sitter VeeKay and Norman brought the Indy Lights field up the Road America Straight to the start/finish line to begin Sunday’s second race of the weekend.
Telitz, from his third starting spot, moved to the outside of Norman to make it three wide headed into Turn 1, the Belardi Auto Racing veteran was forced to back out of the move, and that allowed Askew to move past him into third.
VeeKay got through the first three turns ahead of Norman, as behind them several drivers locked up their Cooper Tires under braking for the critical right-hander.
Telitz got ahead of Askew into the Turn 5 braking zone but locked up the brakes on the Endodontic Specialists of Wisconsin sponsored No. 4, putting his right side tires on the gator curbs forcing him to miss the corner and drop into ninth place, right behind his teammate. Telitz was able to get past Kohl in Canada Corner to gain back the first of four spots he’d make up.
At the end of the first lap, VeeKay’s lead was already 1.008 seconds over Norman, who was followed across the line by Askew, Robert Megennis, Toby Sowery, David Malukas, Dalton Kellett, Telitz and Kohl.
At the start of the fourth lap, VeeKay had built up a 2.017-second lead, putting Norman out of push-to-pass range, and into the clutches of Askew.
Askew took a look to the inside of Norman in Turn 1, but thought better of it, tucking his Index Invest No. 28 right under the rear wing until the exit of Turn 3, when he drove by Norman on the inside on the long run to Turn 5. Askew cleared Norman well before the corner and pulled right to set up for a typical entry into the corner. Norman took that opportunity to dive back to the inside, out braking his teammate, who went wide over the curbing at corner exit. Norman was able to win the drag race up the hill under the Corvette Bridge to Turn 6, to maintain his second spot on the podium.
That put Askew into the viewfinder of the third Andretti Autosport driver, Megennis and Sowery.
VeeKay continued to push hard, with the rear end of the Mazda/Jumbo Supermarkets/La Place Restaurants/KNAF Talent First sponsored No. 21 stepping out as he crossed the curbing at the exit of the final corner.
Norman started to pull away from Askew, who held Megennis behind him until Lap 9 when Megennis made the pass for the final spot on the podium on the inside of Askew in Turn 5.
When the leader VeeKay was shown the crossed flags, his lead over Norman had grown to a substantial 6.479 seconds. Megennis was on the final step of the podium and was followed by Askew, Sowery, Telitz, Malukas, Kellett, and Kohl.
On Lap 12, Megennis’ rear tires had begun to burn off, allowing Askew to make a pass in on the run down to Turn 5 and moving back to the final step of the podium. Megennis locked up his Cooper Tires in the next corner, getting too deep into the corner and allowing Askew to pull away.
Sowery, who was running fourth, but out of push-to-pass, fell into the clutches of Teltiz and Malukas.
Telitz went to the outside of Sowery in Turn 5, but pushed wide over the curbing and lost a spot to Malukas on the run to Turn 6.
Malukas immediately started to put pressure on Sowery and was able to pass teammate for the fifth spot on the Road America Straight.
Later on that same lap, Telitz faked moving to the outside on the run down Kettle Bottoms before diving to the inside and out braking Sowery to win that battle for position.
In front of them, Malukas began to immediately pressure Megennis, who used the HMD Trucking sponsored No. 79’s final activation of push-to-pass to make the pass on the Kettle Moraine Sweep.
With five laps remaining, VeeKay’s lead had grown to 9.5 seconds over Norman. Askew, who had used up all of his push-to-pass, was not able to get close enough to pressure his teammate.
With three laps remaining VeeKay’s lead over Norman was 11.389 seconds.
VeeKay ended up crossing under the checkered flag 12.8989 seconds ahead of Norman, who finished on the podium for his third straight race.
Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of Road America Powered By AER Race #2 Unofficial Results
|1||21||Rinus VeeKay||Juncos Racing||20 laps|
|2||48||Ryan Norman||Andretti Autosport||-12.8989|
|3||28||Oliver Askew||Andretti Autosport||-13.6108|
|4||79||David Malukas||BN Racing||-17.4219|
|5||4||Aaron Telitz||Belardi Auto Racing||-19.7431|
|6||27||Robert Megennis||Andretti Autosport||-22.0393|
|7||67||Dalton Kellett||Juncos Racing||-28.5255|
|8||2||Toby Sowery||BN Racing/Team Pelfrey||-32.978|
|9||5||Lucas Kohl||Belardi Auto Racing||-40.7614|