As the last car on the track, championship leader Oliver Askew knew precisely what he needed to grab his fourth straight and seventh pole position of the season. The Andretti Autosport rookie delivered with a two-lap average of 159.918 mph. The Jupiter, Fla. native was the only driver with a lap above 160mph.
It’s Askew’s 18th pole in 44 career Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires starts, giving the 22-year-old a career pole percentage of an impressive 40.9%.
It is the second straight year that an Andretti Autosport driver will start on pole at World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway.
The track temperature was 30 degrees cooler than it was during the afternoon practice equating to entirely different conditions for the drivers.
“Not really, a little bit of a wing adjustment because the COP (Center of Pressure) changes with the cooler air,” explained Askew when TSO asked if they made any adjustments going into qualifying. “In a situation like this when you haven’t driven in this condition, it’s all about adapting to what it’s giving you. You have to push as hard as you can to find the limit (on the out-lap), but there is a happy medium because you don’t want to bin it.”
Lucas Kohl was the first driver to take to the 1.25-mile oval at 7:30 pm for his two-lap qualifying effort. The Belardi Auto Racing rookie will start ninth after a two-lap qualifying effort of 155.278mph.
Veteran Dalton Kellett was the next driver on the track followed by HMD Motorsports rookie David Malukas. Kellett will start tomorrow’s race on the outside of the third row.
Malukas was the first driver to surpass the 159 mph barrier with a two-lap run averaging 159.013mph. The 17-year-old held onto the provisional pole through two drivers, Andretti Autosport rookie Robert Megennis and his teammate Toby Sowery.
Andretti Autosport veteran Ryan Norman, the third to last driver to turn in a qualifying effort grabbed the provisional pole with a two-lap average of 159.248mph.
Rinus VeeKay, who was off the pace in last week’s test at World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway, was the second to last driver on track, turning in two laps that were good enough for an outside front-row start.
After the session, we had a chance to chat with VeeKay, and he was happy with his qualifying effort. The Dutchman reminded us that he won from the same spot on the grid in last year’s Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires race at this track.
Cooper Tires Indy Lights Oval Challenge of St. Louis qualifying results
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||2-LAP AVERGE (mph)||1st LAP||2nd LAP|
|1||28||Oliver Askew||Andretti Autosport||159.918||159.398||160.440|
|2||21||Rinus VeeKay||Andretti Autosport||159.288||158.647||159.935|
|3||48||Ryan Norman||Juncos Racing||159.248||158.763||159.736|
|4||79||David Malukas||HMD Motorsports/Team Pelfrey||159.013||158.446||159.584|
|5||2||Toby Sowery||HMD Motorsports||158.927||158.591||159.263|
|6||67||Dalton Kellett||Andretti Autosport||158.510||158.353||158.667|
|7||27||Robert Megennis||Juncos Racing||158.331||157.897||158.767|
|8||5||Lucas Kohl||Belardi Auto Racing||155.278||153.849||156.733|
The 75 lap Cooper Tires Indy Lights Oval Challenge of St. Louis is scheduled to get the green flag at 3:25 pm (central) on Saturday.