It was a Sunday drive upfront for Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Race #2, Oliver Askew. Saturday’s race winner has three straight Indy Lights wins and sixth of his rookie season.
Andretti Autosport has now won seven Indy Lights races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, including the last four.
After a mistake ended in the wall yesterday, the BN Racing crew was able to get the Team Pelfrey/BN Racing No. 2 rebuilt, and Englishman Toby Sowery drove to a second-place finish.
Rounding out the podium was Juncos Racing rookie Rinus VeeKay. It’s the Dutchman’s 9th podium in 13 races this season.
Despite his consistency, VeeKay lost ground to double-winner Askew, who now has a 45-point lead headed to World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway.
The ambient temperature when the nine 2.0L turbocharged AER engines powering the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires grid were fired was 83F. The track temperature was 110F, and the humidity was 56%.
After one pace lap, the front row of Askew and VeeKay brought the field to the green flag on the Mid-Ohio front straight.
Askew punched off first, with VeeKay dropping in behind him. Sowery looked to the inside of VeeKay, before thinking better of it and backing out.
Behind the front three, they didn’t make as wise of a choice. Robert Megennis and Dalton Kellett who started fourth and fifth went side-by-side through Turn 1, making contact that sent Kellett’s K-Line Insulator sponsored into a smoke inducing spin. Megennis was forced through the gravel trap.
Also taking avoidable action was Aaron Telitz, who went for a wild ride throughout the gravel, and David Malukas, who almost came to a stop to avoid Kellett.
Unfortunately, Kellett’s Juncos Racing No. 67 got high-sided on the curb at the exit for the quick left-hander, meaning the yellow flag came out.
The running order at the end of the first lap, under yellow, was: Askew, VeeKay, Sowery, Norman, Kohl, Malukas, Megennis, Telitz, and Kellett.
The green flag came back out to start Lap 3 with Askew grabbing the lead. Behind him, Sowery was putting intense pressure, trying to go around the outside of The Keyhole.
With the battling behind him, Askew was able to build a significant 2.6-second gap back to VeeKay.
On Lap 4, Sowery made the pass of VeeKay down the long back straight, moving up to second.
Two laps later, Megennis and Teltiz, who were battling for sixth, made contact in Turn 2. Telitz dropped to seventh, while Megennis came to pit road for repairs. The Andretti Autosport was able to make repairs, but the New Yorker was four laps down.
The incident was reviewed by race control, and no action was taken.
On Lap 8, Malukas was able to get around Kohl for the final spot in the top five.
With ten of the 30 laps gone, Askew’s lead was 2.7 seconds. VeeKay, who was 0.9 seconds back, was within push-to-pass range.
On the next lap, VeeKay set the quickest lap of the race to that point, closing to within 0.6 seconds of the Gap Guard/Rich Energy sponsored No. 2 of Sowery.
Sowery took the quick lap honors back on the next lap, the first driver to go under 73 seconds.
When Megennis came back on track, it was between Askew and Sowery, which allowed Sowery to use push-to-pass to close the gap to Askew.
Askew was 1.53 seconds ahead of Sowery when the came under the crossed flags to signify the halfway point of the race. Just outside of the 1.5-second gap to utilize push-to-pass.
VeeKay was third, with Norman and Malukas rounding out the top five.
Askew’s engineer Doug Zister must have told him to turn up the wick. The 22-year-old turned his quickest lap of the race the next lap, pulling out of push-to-pass range.
With five laps remaining, Askew’s gap upfront to Sowery had grown to 3.4 seconds. Sowery was facing pressure from VeeKay, who was utilizing the last of his 50hp push-to-pass boost to move up a spot on the podium.
VeeKay continued to put pressure on Sowery didn’t use his final two push-to-pass utilizations until the last lap. The Soul Red No. 21 was able to get within three car lengths in the Turn 4 braking zone but did not take the risk of a late lunge.
Askew crossed the line 5.2430 seconds ahead of Sowery and turned the quickest lap of the race on that final lap.
Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Race #2 – unofficial results
|1||28||Oliver Askew||Andretti Autosport|
|2||2||Toby Sowery||BN Racing/Team Pelfrey||5.2430|
|3||21||Rinus VeeKay||Juncos Racing||5.8986|
|4||48||Ryan Norman||Andretti Autosport||12.8891|
|5||79||David Malukas||BN Racing||23.5108|
|6||4||Aaron Telitz||Belardi Auto Racing||34.3004|
|7||5||Lucas Kohl||Belardi Auto Racing||35.7661|
|8||67||Dalton Kellett||Juncos Racing||36.2376|
|9||27||Robert Megennis||Andretti Autosport||– 4 LAPS|