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Indy Lights at Road America – Sunday – VeeKay dominates – Norman on Podium again – Askew maintains points lead

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.

Road America Indy Lights Race #2 winner, Juncos Racing rookie Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) is interviewed by INDYCAR Radio’s Rob Howden (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

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.

Robert Megennis goes a little too deep into Turn 6 in attempt to get back around his Andretti Autosport teammate Oliver Askew in Sunday’s Indy Lights race at Road America (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

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

RANK CAR NO DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
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

Indy Lights at Road America – Saturday – Norman wins – Askew and VeeKay run into trouble

One, two, three, four, five!! Five different drivers spent some time in the lead of the Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of Road America Powered By AER during a chaotic first two laps. The fifth driver to take the lead, Ryan Norman, turned in a smooth final 18 laps to grab his first Indy Lights road course win.

Andretti Autosport veteran Ryan Norman celebrates his Indy Lights win at Road America (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

“I absolutely love this place,” said a grinning Norman after pulling into victory lane. “Andretti Autosport gave me such a great car; the Cooper Tires hung on all race. This is my first road course win in Indy Lights. I’ve proved that I can win on ovals and now here. It’s really good momentum going into the (NTT) IndyCar (Series) test next week.

“I learned that in the last couple of years, the rears would fall off with power down. I was trying to be super smooth with the guys pushing super hard behind me and knowing that their rears would fall off. I just kept it clean, kept my head down and it worked out in the end.”

After the 20-laps were complete, Megennis, who finished on the podium for the fourth time this year, proclaimed a race that saw him lead the first lap, drop to fourth and eventually work his way up to second, as the ‘smartest drive’ of his career.

“I took what I learned at Circuit of The Americas; don’t battle too hard at the beginning and save your push-to-pass until the end and it worked out,” explained Megennis. “I had better tires, more push-to-pass and I was able to drive around those guys at the of the race. I can’t thank Andretti Autosport enough, that car was awesome. Palo Alto Networks, Optiv, and Salepoint for getting me out here.”

The one-two finish by the Andretti Autosport duo meant both drivers were able to take a chunk out their third teammate’s championship lead. Norman’s gap to Askew dropped from 62 points to 48 points, and he moved from fifth to fourth in the championship.

Aaron Telitz, for the second straight Indy Lights event, got a late call to jump into the Belardi Auto Racing No. 4. The veteran stood on an Indy Lights podium for the 11th time and improved an impressive Road To Indy podium percentage to 50.6%. Teltiz made his 81st start across the three series and stood on the podium for the 41% time.

“It feels pretty good (to be back on an Indy Lights podium),” said Telitz after getting out of his car. “I didn’t expect this, starting in sixth place and coming up to the lead on the second lap. That was awesome! Hopefully, the fans enjoyed that. Ended up third because the car fell off there at the end. I can’t thank the Belardi Auto Racing guys enough and Endodontic Specialists of Wisconsin for being on board. We’re going to make root canals fun again.

The pole sitter, Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) got the jump on Norman as the field crested the hill to take the green flag. Behind him, the three Andretti Autosport teammates went three wide into the braking zone for Turn 1.

Megennis got was able to go around the outside of Norman to slot into the second spot, while points leader Oliver Askew, fell back to seventh early on Lap 1. The Index Invest sponsored No. 28 dropped two wheels in the grass on driver’s right in Turn 2 and was caught some air when it got back on track.

The Jupiter, Fla. would have to settle for a fifth-place finish, breaking a string of five straight podiums, after a bolt in the steering mechanism broke off. Askew told TSO that the wheel was shaking the entire race, and he was only able to drive at about 75% for the remainder of the race.

Sowery, from his eighth starting spot, moved into the final place on the podium with a textbook over-under move on Norman in Turn 5 and 6.

Leader VeeKay ran way wide at the exit of the right-hand Turn 7, getting all four Cooper shod Motegi Wheels off terra firma before rejoining right in front of Megennis.

The No. 27 Cybersecurity Dallara/AER of Megennis moved to the inside to make a move into Turn 8, but that move was blocked by VeeKay, who moved aggressively to his left in reaction to Megennis.

VeeKay was able to hold onto the lead, but by the time the Juncos Racing rookie had exited Canada Corner, he had been issued a drive-thru penalty for blocking.

Sowery took a look around the outside of Megennis in Canada Corner on the first lap, but ran wide, allowing Norman and Telitz to get by the Rich Energy/Gap Guard sponsored No. 2 of the Englishman.

VeeKay immediately dove for pit road, handing the lead over to Megennis, who led his fourth Indy Lights race in the last five starts.

The running order at the end of the first lap was Megennis, Norman, Telitz, Sowery, Dalton Kellett, Askew, Lucas Kohl, David Malukas and VeeKay.

Norman tried to go around the outside of his Andretti Autosport teammate in Turn 1, but could not make the pass. The eventual winner got a much better driver off of Turn 3, but it was Telitz, from his sixth starting spot that got an even better exit off the right-hander before the long run down the Moraine Sweep.

The home state driver was able to go around the outside and grab the lead. Right behind him, Norman moved around Megennis, who then bumped wheels with Sowery on the run-up to the Corvette Bridge before yielding that position.

Telitz led at the line to begin the third lap, but by the time they had reached pit out, Norman was able to get around Telitz, easily leading through Turn 1.

Sowery got a great draft and was able to drive around the outside of Telitz in Turn 5.

Things settled in for the next seven laps with Norman working hard to hold back Sowery, who was using his push-to-pass liberally in an attempt to get to grab the lead.

At the back of the field, VeeKay was turning qualifying type laps to make up the 23-second gap to Lucas Kohl and Dalton Kellett, who were swapping seventh and eighth.

Norman’s lead over Sowery when the sixth lap began was 0.9 seconds.

Ryan Norman leads Toby Sowery and Aaron Telitz in the first Indy Lights at Road America in 2019 (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

As they crossed the line to start the eighth lap Norman’s lead had grown to just over 1.5 seconds, putting Sowery outside of the push-to-pass range.

Sowery, who was out of push-to-pass, lost the second spot just after the start/finish line on Lap 9.

At the halfway mark of the 20 lap race, Norman’s lead over Telitz was 1.7 seconds. Sowery was hanging onto the back of Telitz’s Endodontic Specialists of Wisconsin sponsored No. 4.

Megennis, Askew, Malukas, Kohl, Kellett, and VeeKay rounded out the running order after ten laps.

VeeKay continued to make up the ground he lost due to the drive-thru on the first lap, closing the gap to eighth place from 23 seconds to eight seconds.

The reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion was able to get past Kellett on Lap 13 and Kohl on Lap 16 to salvage a seventh-place finish.

Throughout the next five laps, Norman’s lead in the Three Chord sponsored No. 48 had grown to a comfortable 4.5 seconds.

The rest of the running order remained the same, with Megennis starting to make up ground to Sowery and Telitz.

The New Yorker was able to conserve his Cooper Tires and work to within 1.5 seconds of Sowery, which allowed him to utilize the push-to-pass he had saved.

Behind the top four, Askew was busy holding back Malukas for fifth.

With six laps left, Megennis went to the outside of Sowery in Turn 5, but Sowery placed his car perfectly to defend the spot.

With five laps remaining, Megennis was able to drive by Sowery on the Road America Straight, moving onto the podium.

Robert Megennis takes a look to the inside of Toby Sowery for the final spot on the podium in an Indy Lights race at Road America (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

With some push-to-pass remaining, he was quickly able to catch Telitz, and on Lap 17, he was able to make the pass in Turn 5; faking a move to the outside, before diving to the inside and out-braking Telitz to grab the second spot on the podium.

After the race, the Rice Lake, Wisc. driver told us that engineer Tim Neff had set up the car aggressively; going stiff on the springs and laying the rear wing back, in an attempt to move forward quickly. That plan worked, but they were just a little too aggressive, and the 27-year-old was not able to keep his rear tires under him.

Telitz valiantly tried to hold on to the back of Megennis, but the 19-year-old, who had smartly saved his tires, began to make inroads on Norman’s 5.5-second lead as they crossed the line with three laps remaining.

Just before he began the final lap, Kohl, dropped a wheel on drivers left while setting up for the last turn. That pulled the Bellko Trading/Kohltrade/IVI Vision sponsored No. 5 into the grass and eventually into the gravel trap. The Brazilian was able to get on the brakes quickly and came to a stop just before the tire barriers.

Norman, who is testing an NTT IndyCar Series machine with Andretti Autosport at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, on June 25, crossed under the checkered flag 4.7 seconds ahead of his rookie teammate.

It’s the second straight Indy Lights race in a row that Norman led the most laps.

Norman joins Colton Herta as one of two Andretti Autosport drivers that have won an Indy Lights race at Road America.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of Road America Powered By AER Race #1 Results

RANK CAR NO DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport
2 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 4.6912
3 4 Aaron Telitz Belardi Auto Racing 7.5953
4 2 Toby Sowery BN Racing/Team Pelfrey 8.9909
5 28 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport 10.3455
6 79 David Malukas BN Racing 13.6080
7 21 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing 16.4894
8 67 Dalton Kellett Juncos Racing 62.8849
9 5 Lucas Kohl Belardi Auto Racing -2 LAPS

Indy Lights at Road America – 2019 – Friday – VeeKay dominates qualifying

Juncos Racing and Rinus VeeKay picked right up where they left off the last time Indy Lights was on a road course. The Dutchman started on pole in that race and drove to a 6.8849-second victory.

The rookie ended up almost three-tenths ahead Ryan Norman, who is going to start on the outside of the front row.

It’s the second time that VeeKay will start on the pole this year, and his ninth career Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires pole.

The top rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder was the last of three qualifying sessions in a one hour and 20-minute span.

The first two sessions were 20-minutes, but the Indy Lights drivers were afforded 30-minutes to set a quick lap.

The early leader was Rinus VeeKay, who was also leading at the half-way point of the half-hour session, with a lap of 115.0242 seconds. He was followed by Robert Megennis, Oliver Askew, Ryan Norman, and Dalton Kellett in the top five. Those five drivers were all within a half-second of VeeKay.

The Belardi Auto Racing duo of Aaron Telitz and Lucas Kohl were the first drivers to head back out on fresh Cooper Tire slicks.

The Andretti Autosport crew of Askew was able to get his Index Invest sponsored No. 28 repaired after his contact with the tire barriers on drivers right at the exit of Turn 14. And, the Jupiter, Fla. native was the first driver to knock VeeKay from the provisional pole.

The current points leader’s time at the top of the timing screens was short. His chief rival VeeKay grabbed the provisional pole a few moments later and went even quicker on his next lap, a full six-tenths ahead of the rest of the field.

The only driver to even make a dent in the reigning Indy Pro 2000’s provisional pole lap was Norman, whose lap at 114.054 seconds.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America Powered by AER Indy Lights Qualifying #1 Results

RANK CAR NO DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 21 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing 1:54.054 –.—-
2 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport 1:54.309 0.2553
3 28 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport 1:54.698 0.6444
4 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:54.711 0.6573
5 67 Dalton Kellett Juncos Racing 1:54.873 0.8193
6 4 Aaron Telitz Belardi Auto Racing 1:55.070 1.0163
7 5 Lucas Kohl Belardi Auto Racing 1:55.799 1.7451
8 2 Toby Sowery BN Racing/Team Pelfrey 1:55.848 1.7939
9 79 David Malukas BN Racing 1:55.858 1.8043

The first Indy Lights race is at 1:50 pm on Saturday, and they are back on track tomorrow morning for qualifying at 10:15 am.

Indy Lights at Road America – 2019 – Friday – VeeKay and Telitz quickest – by quite a bit – in Indy Lights practice

Rinus VeeKay, who has a pair of USF2000 wins at Road America, was the quickest driver in a disjointed Indy Lights practice session.

Belardi Auto Racing veteran Aaron Telitz was the only driver within one second of the Dutchman’s lap of 114.9558 seconds.

Andretti Autosport rookie Robert Megennis was the third quickest driver, with the next five drivers all within a half-second of the Juncos Racing rookie.

The first and only Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires started promptly at 10:05 am as the nine AER/Dallara IL-15’s took to the 4.014-mile, 14-turn natural terrain road course.

The ambient temperature was comfortable 68F, and the track temperature was 86F.

At the 15 minute point of the 45-minute session, the leader, with a lap of 114.9958 seconds, was Rinus VeeKay.

The first red flag of the session came out with 25-minutes remaining when the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing machine of Lucas Kohl came to a stop on track at the exit of The Carousel (Turn 10).

The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team was able to flat-tow him back to pit-lane, and the green flag came back out 17-minutes remaining.

Points leader Oliver Askew brought out the second red flag of the session with just over 10 minutes remaining. The No. 28 spun at the exit of Turn 14, taking out a Firestone advertising sandwich board, and ended up in the tires on driver’s left just before pit-in.

Askew told IndyCar radio that he lost it on the curb on the outside of Turn 14 and backed it into the tires.

He was able to get his Andretti Autosport car restarted and drive back to pit road. The damage was enough that he wasn’t ready to head back out.

The green flag came back out with eight minutes remaining, and the only driver to improve on his time in the final few minutes was David Malukas.

Toby Sowery was not able to turn any laps at speed, only turning four laps in total. The No. 2 BN Racing team was furiously working on an issue on the right front of the car with the driver complaining of slack in the steering. The fourth-place driver was able to get on track to complete a single out lap to test the team’s fix.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America Powered by AER Indy Lights Practice Results

RANK CAR NO DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 21 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing 1:54.996 –.—- 15
2 4 Aaron Telitz Belardi Auto Racing 1:55.161 0.1649 14
3 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:56.004 1.0084 16
4 5 Lucas Kohl Belardi Auto Racing 1:56.160 1.1640 14
5 67 Dalton Kellett Juncos Racing 1:56.193 1.1974 14
6 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport 1:56.295 1.2991 14
7 28 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport 1:56.390 1.3943 9
8 79 David Malukas BN Racing 1:56.590 1.5937 12
9 2 Toby Sowery BN Racing/Team Pelfrey 2:09.823 14.8268 5

The top rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires qualifies at 2:05 pm this afternoon.

Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires – Thursday – 10:30pm – Qualifying – Five cars fail post-qual inspection – new starting line -up

By Steve Wittich

A quintet of Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires cars failed post-qualifying tech inspection, reordering the starting line up for the Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires on Carb Day.

Having their laps deleted for a variety of reasons were Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing), Oliver Askew (Andretti Autosport), Toby Sowery (BN Racing/Team Pelfrey), Lucas Kohl (Belardi Auto Racing) and Jarett Andretti (Andretti Autosport). Tony Cotman, Indy Light Race Director, did tell us that none of them were intentional.

The biggest loser was Askew, who goes from starting on the outside of the front row to start the race in eighth. Askew trails VeeKay by a single point and was due to start the race with six drivers between himself and his rival, but instead will start behind VeeKay.

VeeKay was only able to muster the ninth best time in qualifying, and in a weird set of circumstances actually gained two starting spots despite having his qualifying effort disqualified. If more than one driver faces a disqualification, they are ordered via championship points.

The drivers who had the most significant benefit were David Malukas, gaining five spots to sixth from 11th and Chris Windom, gaining five places to fifth from tenth.

2019 Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires starting line-up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM
1 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport
2 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport
3 4 Aaron Telitz Belardi Auto Racing
4 67 Dalton Kellett Juncos Racing
5 17 Chris Windom Belardi Auto Racing / Jonathan Byrd’s Racing
6 79 David Malukas BN Racing
7 23 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing
8 28 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport
9 2 Toby Sowery BN Racing / Team Pelfrey
10 5 Lucas Kohl Belardi Auto Racing
11 18 Jarett Andretti Andretti Autosport
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Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires – Thursday – 3:25pm – Qualifying – Megennis scores pole – Andretti Autosport locks out front two rows

By Steve Wittich

One-two-three-four

A quartet of Andretti Autosport drivers will lead the Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires field to the green flag, with Robert Megennis starting on the pole. The pole for the first oval race of the year is the 17-year-olds second inside front row start in the past three races and the third of his career.

The Cybersecurity sponsored No. 27 AER/Dallara IL-15 of Robert Megennis will start the pole for the 2019 Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

“This is a dream come true, being on pole for the Freedom 100 at IMS. It’s going to be awesome tomorrow, to go out there on the front row in front of all those people,” exclaimed Megennis.” That’s going to be a moment. It was a lot hotter today than it was for Monday’s test so we had to figure out what the car would be in these temperatures and we did a great job with that. Andretti one-two-three-four, that’s wild, hopefully we can end the race like that and just control everything. But you can’t set expectations for the Freedom 100, you have no clue what’s going to happen. We can strategize all we want but you just don’t know – we’ll all talk tonight and see if we can work together to stay in front.

“But it did feel like a lot of pressure when I was sitting there waiting, but once I went out it was just foot to the floor and send it. The car was awesome; I can’t thank the team enough, as well as all my partners – Palo Alto Networks, Optic, CyberArk and SailPoint. I wouldn’t be here without them and I wouldn’t have this opportunity.”

Megennis turned the quickest single lap of qualifying at 194.421 mph, and his two-lap average was 194.207mph, beating his teammate Oliver Askew by a scant 0.1390mph or a razor-thin 0.0399 seconds over the two laps of qualifying.

Veteran Ryan Norman and newcomer Jarett Andretti will follow directly behind their teammates when the green flag for the 40-lap race flies at 1 pm on ”Carb Day.”

Points leader Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) had a consistent, but slow qualifying effort. The Juncos Racing rookie could only manage the ninth fastest two-lap average.

Cars took to the track for their two-lap qualifying runs in the reverse order of the current Indy Lights points standings, making the three Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires one-offs the first cars on track to complete their five-mile qualification attempts.

USAC regular Chris Windom was the first car on the track. The 28-year-old exited his car, got on a golf cart, and met a helicopter outside of Turn 2. He had to get to Anderson Speedway where he is due to take part in qualifying for the Little 500. The Jonathan ‘Byrd’s Racing backed driver will start his first Indy Lights race on the outside of the fifth-row after two consistent laps.

The first car on track was Aaron Telitz, whose deal to contest his third Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires came together just a few minutes before practice. The Wisconsin based driver was flat his entire two-laps and mentioned that they might have missed the gearing.

Aaron Telitz is making his return to Indy Lights and will start the 2019 Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires from the outside of the third row. (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Jarett Andretti, the seventh member of his famous family to turn laps on the historic 2.5-mile, turned two incredibly consistent laps (less than a tenth of a mile per hour between his two laps), was the quickest of the three one-off drivers and will start the race in the fourth spot.

Lucas Kohl, making his first Indy Lights oval qualification attempt was quicker and more consistent than Telitz, his teammate for this race. After the run, the Brazilian told the team he ‘didn’t lift, but it was a bit sketchy in Turn 3. His team responded – “‘that’s the way ‘it’s supposed to be.” The Roberto Moreno mentored pilot was the quickest of the non-Andretti Autosport drivers and will start the 100-mile race on the inside of the third row.

Dalton Kellett had an incredibly consistent qualifying effort, but his K-Line Insulators USA, Inc. sponsored No. 67 didn’t have the pace that he had last year. The veteran was quicker than his teammate and will start the race on the inside of the fourth row.

Ryan Norman, the winner of the last Indy Lights oval race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, was the sixth car on the track, and the first to turn a lap over 193 mph. The ‘veteran’s second lap fell off 0.3 mph, but his average remained above 193 mph. That average is good enough for an inside second row starting spot.

David Malukas, who missed the majority of the morning practice, was able to make a two-lap qualification attempt, and despite having no idea what to expect from the car, turned in two clean laps with competitive.

The fourth to last driver on track was Toby Sowery, who turned his first ever oval laps at Kentucky Speedway only one week ago. The 22-year-old that is sponsored by Rich Energy turned in two consistent laps that were only 0.0410 mph different.

Toby Sowery and his Rich Energy sponsored No. 2 on the famous 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Robert Megennis, who led the ‘Monday’s test and this ‘morning’s practice, was the first driver to break into the 194mph range. The ‘rookie’s second lap fell off almost half-a-second, but the average remained above 194mph.

The final Andretti Autosport AER/Dallara IL-15 to take to the track was Oliver Askew. His first lap was the second lap of qualifying above 194mph, but like Megennis, dropped into the 193mph range on his second lap.

The last car to take the green flag in Indy Lights qualifying was points leader Rinus VeeKay. The Juncos Racing rookie and his Soul Red No. 23 will have some work to do tomorrow. The 18-year-old had the least drop off of all 11 drivers between his first and second lap, but his pace was only good enough to put him on the inside of the fifth row.

Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires qualifying results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM LAP 1 LAP 2 AVERAGE DIFFERENCE
1 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 194.421 193.992 194.207 -0.4290
2 28 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport 194.253 193.882 194.068 -0.3710
3 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport 193.191 192.876 193.034 -0.3150
4 18 Jarett Andretti Andretti Autosport 192.878 192.786 192.832 -0.0920
5 5 Lucas Kohl Belardi Auto Racing 192.814 192.602 192.708 -0.2120
6 4 Aaron Telitz Belardi Auto Racing 192.669 192.309 192.489 -0.3600
7 67 Dalton Kellett Juncos Racing 192.242 192.125 192.184 -0.1170
8 2 Toby Sowery BN Racing / Team Pelfrey 192.198 192.157 192.178 -0.0410
9 23 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing 192.142 192.105 192.124 -0.0370
10 17 Chris Windom Belardi Auto Racing / Jonathan Byrd’s Racing 191.671 191.443 191.557 -0.2280
11 79 David Malukas BN Racing 191.205 191.403 191.304 0.1980
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Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires – Thursday – 12:35 pm – Megennis goes quickest, Telitz added to field and leads no-tow speeds

By Steve Wittich

Robert Megennis with a lap speed of 196.449 mph turned the quickest lap (with help) in the lone official practice session before qualifying for the Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires. He was followed by his Andretti Autosport teammates, Ryan Norman, and Oliver Askew, as well as Belardi Auto Racing teammate Lucas Kohl.

The fastest no-tow lap of the session was turned in by Aaron Telitz, who announced he would be taking part in his third Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires only moments before the practice began. (see more below)

The lone 45-minute practice session for the Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires got underway 94 minutes after the initially scheduled time of 10 am. Strong thunderstorms rolled through Speedway, Ind. between 5 am, and 7 am soaking the 2.5-mile oval and requiring extensive track drying efforts.

Just before the session commenced, Belardi Auto Racing announced that Aaron Telitz would be joining the Brownsburg, Ind. based team for the race to pilot the No. 4. The 2019 Freedom 100 will be the Wisconsin native’s third race on carb day with the team.

Telitz won his first Road To Indy oval start at Lucas Oil Raceway in USF2000 and finished second in the 2017 Freedom 100.

The 27-year-old, who has been embedded with the Dale Coyne Racing With Vasser-Sullivan IndyCar team this year will be making his first open-wheel start since the Indy Lights season finale at Portland International Raceway last September.

Telitz has made a pair of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD starts driving a Lexus RC F GT3 for AIM Vasser Sullivan, scoring a podium at the Rolex 24 in January.

It didn’t take long for the 11 cars to start turning laps at speed in a large group.

The first yellow flag of the session came out with 38-minutes remaining for debris in Turn 3. At that point of the session Juncos Racing veteran, Dalton Kellett had the fastest overall lap, and Lucas Kohl had the quickest non-aided lap at 190.287 mph.

The green flag came out two minutes later, and 10 of the 11 cars were quickly back on track.

Megennis, Kellett, VeeKay, and Askew were all running together on the track, going three wide on numerous occasions.

David Malukas, in the HMD Trucking, sponsored No. 79 AER/Dallara IL-15 from the BN Racing stable was the last car to turn laps at speed. Malukas was only able to turn four laps due to a mechanical issue and will head into qualifying at a distinct disadvantage

With 25-minutes remaining in the 45-minute session, nine of the 11 drivers were all circulating together, to simulate race running.

With 15 minutes left in the session, all but two cars were in pit road, making changes before doing qualification simulations. The 11 drivers searched for gaps among the other cars to simulate two-lap qualifying runs.

Two lap qualifying for the 40-lap Carb Day will begin at 2:15 pm.

Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires practice results (overall)

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST LAP
1 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 196.449
2 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport 196.318
3 28 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport 195.120
4 5 Lucas Kohl Belardi Auto Racing 193.965
5 17 Chris Windom Belardi Auto Racing 193.950
6 18 Jarett Andretti Andretti Autosport 193.839
7 67 Dalton Kellett Juncos Racing 193.670
8 4 Aaron Telitz Belardi Auto Racing 193.368
9 21 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing 193.256
10 2 Toby Sowery BN Racing/Team Pelfrey 192.861
11 79 David Malukas BN Racing 127.833

Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires practice results (no-tow*)

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST NO-TOW LAP
1 4 Aaron Telitz Belardi Auto Racing 193.368
2 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport 193.317
3 21 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing 192.699
4 18 Jarett Andretti Andretti Autosport 192.310
5 28 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport 191.304
6 5 Lucas Kohl Belardi Auto Racing 190.914
7 2 Toby Sowery BN Racing/Team Pelfrey 190.872
8 17 Chris Windom Belardi Auto Racing 190.245
9 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport N/A
10 67 Dalton Kellett Juncos Racing N/A
11 79 David Malukas BN Racing N/A

*no-two laps require a 10-second gap to the car in front of them.

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Road To Indy on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – VeeKay takes comfortable win and points lead back after 35 lap Indy Lights feature race

A dominating performance by Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) on the way to his second Indy Lights win of the season pushed the 18-year-old back to the championship lead in the chase for a three-race NTT IndyCar Series deal.

“It feels amazing to get my first win at Indianapolis and I hope it’s the first of many,” said VeeKay. “There’s still one more race this month of May and it’s nice to go into it with the points lead and hopefully win that race as well. We came into this weekend with a fresh mindset and our testing program was successful. We then went into qualifying yesterday and it was tougher than we expected, and yesterday we struggled. Today, we started over again and got the pole and the race win and learned from what we did yesterday. I got better, the team got better, and we all learned from our setbacks and finally got the win!”

Rinus Veekay recaptured the Indy Lights points lead after a dominating victory on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

It was VeeKay’s 12th career Road To Indy and win and was the 26th time in 36 starts that the native of Hoofddorp, Netherlands has stood on the podium across the USF2000, Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights series. That equates to a superlative podium percentage of 72.2%. It also stretches his run of top-five finishes to 22 consecutive races.

VeeKay joins Kyle Kaiser as Juncos Racing victors on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The Speedway, Ind. based team now has six podiums in this event.

Belardi Auto Racing veteran Zachary Claman used all of his wisdom, mixed with just the right amount of aggression to move from the outside of the third row to second place at the end of the first lap on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course. The Canadian kept in touch with leader VeeKay, for most of the race, before falling back in the last third of the race.

Before the race, Claman told NBC Gold’s Katie Hargitt he wasn’t himself for Friday’s race but was going to be more himself and just go for it in the second race of the weekend. After the race, we found out that due to budget issues, the Canadian almost missed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course doubleheader.

The second place finish matches the 21-year-old’s best finish on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2017 and is the seventh time in 40 Indy Lights races that he has stood on the podium.

It was the sixth podium in this event for Belardi Auto Racing.

Claman was able to keep third place finisher Oliver Askew just outside of the push-to-pass range for the entire 35-lap race. The Andretti Autosport rookie was able to hold off Toby Sowery and then Robert Megennis to claim his fifth podium in six Indy Lights starts.

“Overall I think we got the most out of what we had for this weekend,” said Askew. “There were a few cars that had a little more pace than us this weekend, but it’s good to leave here with two podiums and some good points moving into the second race weekend of the Month of May. I’m looking forward to the Speedway and the experience there. I have to give a big thanks to everyone at Andretti Autosport, Index Invest and the Stellrecht Company for supporting me.”

At the start of a chaotic first lap, VeeKay smartly made a quick move to the inside run down to Turn 1, with outside front row starter Megennis tucking in behind him before darting to the outside and pulling ahead of VeeKay as the got to the braking zone of the 90-degree right hander.

The Cybersecurity sponsored No. 27 of Megennis made it through the corner first, but VeeKay was able to get back to the power just a little quicker, just holding off the winner of the first race.

Just behind them, the second row of Ryan Norman and David Malukas were joined by Zachary Claman to make it three wide in the braking zone. Norman made contact Malukas (which he apologized for after the race) forcing both drivers wide, and allowing Claman to cut under them and grab third from his sixth starting spot. 

Robert Megennis briefly takes the lead over Rinus Veekay, while Claman, Norman and Malukas go three-wide for third to begin a chaotic first lap in the second Indy Lights race on the IMS Road Course in 2019 (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Megennis was able to pull alongside VeeKay’s Mazda/Jumbo Supermarkets/La Place sponsored No. 23 on the long run down Hulman Blvd. to Turn 7. Megennis went just a little too deep into the braking zone and pushed wide into the grass at the exit of the 90-degree left-hand corner, dropping down the order.

Completing the first lap chaos were the Bellko Trading/Kohltrade/IVI Vision sponsored No. 5 of Belardi Auto Racing rookie spinning at the exit of Turn 7 and Andretti Autosport veteran Ryan Norman looping his Three Chord sponsored No. 48 after missing the braking zone and going through the grass in Turn 12.

The running order at the end of the first lap was VeeKay, Claman, Askew, Toby Sowery, Dalton Kellett, Megennis, Malukas, Kohl and Norman.

Lap 2 involved an intense battle for third between Askew, Sowery, and Kellett, but the trio held position and began to spread out.

Claman was not letting VeeKay get too far up the road, with the gap after five laps at 0.8 seconds.

Further behind them, Megennis was starting to put pressure on Kellett for the fifth spot without using his push-to-pass. Megennis was able to get by Kellett before Turn 1 on the 7th lap of the race.

Claman had used 10 of his 15 push to pass activations in the first ten laps, but VeeKay was still able to pull a 1.6-second gap.

On Lap 12 Sowery was starting to put pressure on Askew’s Index Invest sponsored No. 28, with the gap under one second, but it wasn’t long before Megennis began to put pressure on Sowery.

On Lap 18, Megennis was able to get around the Gap Guard/Rich Energy sponsored No. 2 of rookie Sowery, who had used all of his 50hp push-to-pass activations.

After 20 laps, VeeKay’s lead over Claman was 2.6 seconds. Askew was 2.0 seconds behind Claman and 1.7 seconds ahead of teammate Megennis.

Megennis was consistently eating into the gap to Askew, and by the time they began Lap 26, the gap had shrunk to 1.2 seconds. At the end of the next lap, the difference went below one second to 0.8 seconds.

Megennis got a great run on Askew as they crossed the “Yard of Bricks” with five laps to go and made a move to the inside as they got to Turn 1, with Askew also moving right to cover his teammate.

Askew’s move was reviewed by race control, and the Jupiter, Fla. native was given a penalty for blocking and was told to yield the position to Megennis.

Askew let his fellow rookie go past him on the run down Hulman Blvd. Megennis’ hold on the final step of the podium was short lived as Askew dove to the inside into Turn 1 to complete the pass.

I didn’t want to give Robert the opportunity to get by but I did make a bit of an aggressive move to keep him back,” explained the 2017 USF2000 Champion. “That wasn’t intentional at all: I was trying to keep the position; I didn’t mean to make it look that bad. We race each other with respect and we know our boundaries. I let him by on the penalty but thankfully was able to get back by on the straightaway.

VeeKay got the twin checkers 6.9 seconds ahead of Claman, the most significant margin of victory in a dozen races on the current Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course layout.

Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented By Cooper Tires Race

RANK

CAR NO.

DRIVER

TEAM

GAP

1

21

Rinus VeeKay

Juncos Racing

25 LAPS

2

13

Zachary Claman

Belardi Auto Racing

-6.8849

3

28

Oliver Askew

Andretti Autosport

-10.2778

4

27

Robert Megennis

Andretti Autosport

-11.1657

5

2

Toby Sowery

BN Racing/Team Pelfrey

-12.5255

6

79

David Malukas

BN Racing

-19.4287

7

67

Dalton Kellett

Juncos Racing

-35.2233

8

48

Ryan Norman

Andretti Autosport

-51.156

9

5

Lucas Kohl

Belardi Auto Racing

-56.9862

 

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Road To Indy on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course – Megennis score his maiden Indy Lights victory – Askew keeps points lead

By Steve Wttich

An inaugural Indy Lights win for Robert Megennis continues with the momentum that started building at the last event at the Circuit of The Americas. The New Yorker led his first laps in Austin, Texas, but was not able to hold off Oliver Askew, his fellow rookie Andretti Autosport teammate.

That changed in the first of two Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented By Cooper Tires races on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Megennis snagged his first Indy Lights pole in the morning and after trading the lead with Askew, led 28 of the 30 laps to score the trip to the top step of the podium.

“I can’t believe we did it,” exclaimed an ecstatic Megennis. “It’s amazing. It’s our first Indy Lights win – my first win in a few years. We had a great car from start to finish and it feels great to kick off the month of May this way. The Andretti guys really listened to my feedback and we were able to score some valuable points in the championship and now we’re up to third in the standings. I can’t thank CyberArk, Palo Alto Networks and SailPoint for everything that they have done for me.”

Andretti Autosport rookie Robert Megennis shares an embrace with his mom after scoring his Indy Lights on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

The win moved Megennis to within 17 points of championship leader and Andretti Autosport teammate Askew.

Askew’s second place finish is his fourth podium of the year and 20th in his Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires career.

Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) had a rough start to the race but was able to rebound to grab his 25th career Road To Indy podium. The 18-year-old who now has a podium percentage of over 70% is in second place in the chase for an NTT IndyCar Series ride is now nine points behind his rival Askew.

Andretti Autosport has now won three straight Indy Lights on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course and seven overall (including five of the last six). The pair of podiums by Megennis and Askew bump the Andretti Autosport total on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course to 11, tying them with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the highest team total.

The first of two Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented By Cooper Tires Races rolled off under overcast skies. The ambient temperature was 52F and the track temperature 69F.

Outside front row starter VeeKay spun his tires when the green flag came out to start the 30-lap race, allowing the Andretti Autosport duo of Askew and Ryan Norman to move past the Dutchman.

“Given how cold it was today, I knew there was a chance for wheelspin, and sure enough I had wheelspin getting on the power and going through the first few gears at the start,” explained VeeKay. “I went all the way back to fourth, without having the pace to get to Oliver or Robert. Disappointing, but we’ll move forward from this. We’ll analyze what happened today and have the car even better for tomorrow.”

Megennis had 0.4 second lead after the first lap, and the rest of the running order was Askew, Norman, VeeKay, David Malukas, Zachary Claman, Toby Sowery, Lucas Kohl and Dalton Kellett.

On Lap 2, Askew looked to the outside of Megennis in Turn 1 and Turn 7, but couldn’t get the pass completed.

Askew was able to make the pass in Turn 1 on the next lap with Norman almost getting past the pole sitter as well.

Oliver Askew gets past his teammate Robert Megennis in Turn 1 on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Askew led the third and fourth lap before Megennis was able to around his fellow rookie with a late braking maneuver in Turn 1. Askew told TSO Ladder after the race that he was surprised that Rob dove to the inside of him and thought that maybe he didn’t push hard enough when he took the lead in an attempt to save his Cooper Tires.

VeeKay gained back one of the positions he lost on the start when he got by Norman after a side-by-side battle in Turn 7 and Turn 8. The struggle cost Norman momentum, and he lost another position to David Malukas.

As the first pair crossed the yard-of-bricks, Megennis had pulled out a 1.6-second lead, putting Askew outside of the push-to-pass range.

On Lap 10 the running order was Megennis, Askew, VeeKay, Malukas, Norman, Claman, Sowery, Kellett and Kohl.

Over the next five laps, Megennis was able to set fastest race lap after race lap to pull a comfortable 2.5-second lead.

Norman was able to get around Malukas at just past the half-way point of the race. Unfortunately for the BN Racing rookie, he was out of push-to-pass and was unable to get the spot back and with eight laps remaining lost the fifth spot to Claman.

Up front, Megennis continued to manage the gap and ended up winning his first Indy Lights races by 1.9 seconds.

Askew was able to grab the quickest circuit of the race on the 29th of 30 laps. His lap of 75.6953 seconds broke Felix Rosenqvist’s race lap record from 2016.

Box score for the first Indy Lights race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course

 

 

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Road To Indy on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – Indy Lights preview

By Steve Wittich

The top rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder returns to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for their ninth year and 15th and 16th races.

NTT IndyCar Series driver Marco Andretti won the first race, in support of the Formula One US Grand Prix in 2005 while driving for Andretti Autosport.

Colton Herta became the only multiple race winner when he won both races last year from the outside of the front row.

Colton Herta makes a move on Victor Franzoni on his way to one his two wins on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2018 (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Pole sitter and eventual series champion started on pole in both races, but could only manage a fourth and seventh place finish, marking the third and fourth time in the IL-15 that pole sitter finished off the podium.

Previous Indy Lights winners on the the IMS road course

Year

Driver

Team

Starting Spot

2018 Race #2

Colton Herta

Andretti Steinbrenner Racing

2

2018 Race #1

Colton Herta

Andretti Steinbrenner Racing

2

2017 Race #2

Kyle Kaiser

Juncos Racing

1

2017 Race #1

Nico Jamin

Andretti Autosport

1

2016 Race #2

Dean Stoneman

Andretti Autosport

5

2016 Race #1

Ed Jones

Carlin

1

2015 Race #2

Sean Rayhall

8Star Motorsports

2

2015 Race #1

Jack Harvey

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

1

2014 Race #2

Luiz Razia

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

1

2014 Race #1

Matthew Brabham

Andretti Autosport

1

2007 Race #2

Bobby Wilson

Brian Stewart Racing

2

2007 Race #1

Hideki Mutoh

Panther Racing

1

2006

Alex Lloyd

AFS Racing

2

2005

Marco Andretti

Andretti Autosport

1

 


The advancemnt scholarship chase

A pair of wins in the Lone Star State vaulted rookie Oliver Askew from fifth place after the first two races of the season, to a six-point lead over rival Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) headed into the “Month of May.”

The Andretti Autosport driver has started from the pole in his four previous Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires starts on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, collecting two wins, three podiums and 36 laps led. The 22-year-old is the only driver in the Indy Lights field this weekend that has a previous win on the circuit.

“I think both the Andretti Autosport team and myself have built up a lot of momentum and confidence since our last event at Circuit of the Americas,” said Askew. “We are only focused on extracting as much speed out of the car as possible; I think the speed and results will come as long as we keep executing under every circumstance.”

Askew tested an AER/Dallara IL-15 for the first time on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course during last October’s Chris Griffis Memorial Test, leading one of the test sessions.

Current championship leader Oliver Askew climbs into an AER/Dallara IL-15 for the fist time during the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October of 2018 (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

His Andretti Autosport squad has won six times on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course including four of the last five races. The Indianapolis, Ind. based team also leads all teams in the laps led category with 133.

VeeKay is the only Indy Lights driver to finish in the top five in all four races this season, but despite a pair of podiums, the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course hasn’t been all that kind to the Dutchman in the past.

The 18-year-old has only failed to finish inside the top five twice in 34 Road To Indy races. Both of those races occurred on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

VeeKay started eighth and finished sixth in his first race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in USF2000 in 2017. Last year, VeeKay began Saturday’s second race on the inside of the third row. Contact as the field ended the eventual Indy Pro 2000 champions day against the inside pit wall; the only Did Not Finish in 34 races.

The four drivers between third and sixth in the championship are only separated by a scant 11 points, making every position relevant.

Belardi Auto Racing veteran Zachary Claman returns to the site of his first Indy Lights podium, a second place finish in 2017, trailing Askew by 16 points.

“I’m excited to get back to work, and just get back in a racecar. It feels like it has been so long since COTA, which left a bitter taste in my mouth,” said the Canadian. “I’ve still got the same hunger to win that I had at the start of the season, and I am ready to do that once again at the biggest stage in racing.”

Toby Sowery, only three points behind Claman returns in a joint BN Racing / Team Pelfrey entry with support from Rich Energy, a long-time sponsor of the 22-year-old and primary sponsor of the Haas Formula One team. Sowery is the only driver in the field making his first ever start on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course.

Andretti Autosport rookie Robert Megennis, who led the final Indy Lights test session during the 2018 Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway enters the “Month of May” with momentum.

Megennis, who just turned 19-years-old, scored a pair of podiums at Circuit of The Americas while leading his first Indy Lights laps. Megennis has two quickest laps of the race (once at St. Pete and once at COTA) and his fastest average race lap average of 2.5 leads Askew, VeeKay, and Sowery who are tied with an average of 4.0.

“I’m so excited to get the month of May started on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course,” exclaimed the New Yorker. “I love the track, it always makes for great racing, and we finished the last session of the September Chris Griffis test there P1. I’m still on a high from my double podium at COTA, and I’m just looking to keep the momentum going. I can’t wait to get to work again with Andretti Autosport, CyberArk, Optiv, Palo Alto Networks, and Sailpoint.”

BN Racing rookie David Malukas is only eleven points from third place in the championship and his coming off his first Indy Lights podium in the second race at the Circuit of The Americas six weeks ago.

Malukas made his Road To Indy debut on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2016 and tested an Indy Lights car on the circuit during the Chris Griffis Memorial Test.

“We have had some great results so far in 2019, but my first podium has only made me hungrier for more,” explained Malukas. “The team has done a great job, and the speed has been there each and every race weekend. With it being my rookie season in Indy Lights, I am learning along the way and seem to progress as the weekend goes on. With pretty good track knowledge of Indy and already driving an Indy Lights car at the facility in 2018, I am looking to come out of the box even stronger during the first test session later this week.”

Ryan Norman has had a disappointing start to the season, but still has plenty of time to get into championship contention. The veteran Andretti Autosport pilot led the Chris Griffis Memorial Test in October, so he should be quick on the circuit he enjoys.

“I’m really excited to get back on track for the month of May. We’ve had a little bit of a rough start in the first two race weekends of the season, but I’m very confident we will turn it around. We are fast on the road course configuration at Indy, and we showed speed in testing there so I’m ready to see what we can do.”

 

Indy Lights points headed into the “Month of May”

RANK

DRIVER

TOTAL

BACK

1

Oliver Askew – R

98

2

Rinus VeeKay – R

92

-6

3

Zachary Claman

82

-16

4

Toby Sowery – R

79

-19

5

Robert Megennis – R

74

-24

6

David Malukas – R

71

-27

7

Julien Falchero – R

66

-32

8

Ryan Norman

57

-41

9

Lucas Kohl – R

53

-45

10

Dalton Kellett

48

-50

Other Notes

  • There are no previous winners of this event in the field.
  • Milestones – Lucas Kohl is making his 50th Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires start this weekend.
  • Only two of the 14 races have been won the eventual series champion, with Ed Jones (2016) and Kyle Kaiser (2017) winning one race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on the way to the Indy Lights championship.
  • A pair of current NTT IndyCar Series drivers set the qualifying and race track records for the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course during the Indy Lights event in 2016.
  • A lap of 74.6743 seconds by Ed Jones set during qualifying in 2016 is the overall track record.
  • Felix Rosenqvist set the race track record the same weekend with a lap timed at 75.7230 seconds set in the second race of the weekend.
  • All 14 previous Indy Lights races have finished under the green and checkered flag.
  • Marco Andretti beat Wade Cunningham by 12.705 seconds to win the first Indy Lights race held on an Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2005.
  • In 2014 Race #2 Luiz Razia beat his Schmidt teammate Jack Harvey to the line by 0.6414 seconds, the closest finish of the bunch.
  • Eight of the 14 races have run caution free, including the last four.
  • There has only been a single first lap caution, that occurred during an unseasonably cold race in 2016 when Andre Negrao hit the outside wall after getting on the power coming to the green flag.

 


Race Weekend Basics

  • Each entry can utilize four new sets of Cooper Tire slicks as well as one set of used/scuffed tires from the test on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
  • Race Name: Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented By Cooper Tires
  • Race #1 length: 30 laps or 60 minutes
  • Race #2 length: 35 laps or 60 minutes
  • Each driver will have 20 activations of the 50 horsepower push to pass (PTP), with each activation lasting 10 seconds.
  • PTP is not functional during starts and restarts, and a driver must be within 1.5 seconds of the car ahead of them for the system to become active
  • Drivers failing to slow at least 15% in a timing sector with a local yellow will be subject to a two-place grid spot penalty.
  • Drivers who fail to heed the checkered flag at the end of a session will receive a two-grid spot penalty.
  • Causing one red flag will result in a driver losing their fastest lap.
  • Causing a second red flag will wipe out all of drivers laps, and they will not be able to leave pit road for the remainder of the session.
  • Crossing the white line between Turn 6 and Turn 7 is considered out of bounds. Crossing behind the Turn 7 curbs in qualifying will result in the loss of that lap.
  • Pit lane speed is 45mph.
  • At pit exit, all cars shall exit behind the Turn 1 curb and keep all four wheels to the right of the white line.
  • Driver points are distributed as follows: 30 – 25 – 22 – 19 – 17 – 15 -14 – 13 – 12 – 11 – 10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – an additional one point will be awarded to the pole sitter, and to the driver who leads the most laps – note that no point is given for the quickest race lap because of the use of PTP.

Watch the 2018 races

Race #1

Race #2

 



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