By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Oliver Askew continued his charge for the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda crown by capturing his second win of the season at Barber Motorsports Park in the first race of the doubleheader weekend.
Askew led from the start in his No. 3 Soul Red Mazda for Cape Motorsports but was never able to relax. Team Pelfrey’s Kaylen Frederick had his No. 81 Mazda in Askew’s mirrors the entire race but the 14-year-old wasn’t able to overtake.
Behind Askew and Frederick, Pabst Racing’s Rinus VeeKay completed the podium in third ahead of Team Pelfrey driver Robert Megennis and Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson in fifth.
The race had a full course yellow after Askew’s teammate Ricky Donison went off in the final corner, bunching up the field for a final six and a half minute run to the finish.
Askew, one of the Team USA Scholarship winners, clearly has kept up his form by not cracking to the pressure.
“It’s really hard to pass around here with all the high speed corners and no real braking zone to pass,” Askew said. “So even if you have the pace it’s going to be hard and I kept getting a good run out of Turn 2 and he didn’t have a chance in Turn 5 so yeah, it was a tough race for sure and the guys did a great job with Cape Motorsports and Mazda giving me this opportunity to be here. We have a bigger points lead now so I feel fantastic and we’re looking forward to tomorrow and I think we’re going to be even better,” Askew said.
The youngest driver in the USF2000 field, Frederick managed to keep Askew honest but surprised himself with his result.
“After St. Pete I thought I was going to struggle a lot more than I initially thought I would, Frederick said. “[We] qualified pretty decent [and] in the races only moved up [at St. Pete]. I definitely had some things to learn and I think we came here and had some days of testing, the team’s really been working hard getting all of the race prep ready for a longer duration […] and I think that we’re really prepared now and we basically lost the race in qualifying since its so hard to pass here but tomorrow we’ll see what happens in qualifying and hopefully I’ll get the win,” Frederick said.
VeeKay was happy with another podium finish, his third of the season out of three races.
“It was a nice race, not very much action except for the full course yellow and the restart but that’s the flowing track, I think it was a very good outcome. I think the tire management was good because I was one of the quickest in the end but with the dirty air and all the quick guys around me, it’s very hard to catch up and pass them,” VeeKay said.