By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
LEXINGTON, Ohio — Parker Thompson followed up on a Friday podium in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda with a win in Saturday’s race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Thompson led from the start over Rinus VeeKay with Askew falling from third to fourth as Lucas Kohl got around Askew. Kaylen Frederick also got around Askew, dropping the series points leader to fifth after Askew had an issue with his steering rack during the race.
Frederick and Askew got around Kohl by the halfway point in the race while Kohl started a slide that would end with him finishing eighth.
Thompson would remain unchallenged even after a full course yellow with fewer than ten minutes to go in the race for a collision between Kory Enders and Darren Keane.
VeeKay finished second, Frederick was third over Askew and Ming to round out the top five.
This was Thompson’s third win in the last four races and his first at the track that derailed his championship hopes last year. His victory sealed his fate as third in the championship.
“That apple juice tasted pretty good on the podium,” Thompson said.
“It was great, I take pride even more in the wins I take with Exclusive Autosport because I know where we started at the start of this season to where we are now, we’re just gelling together.
“We’re a complete team and they’re doing such an amazing job and working so hard and along with myself, I’m working extremely hard to get race wins this season, I know how hard it is to win on the MRTI so you can’t take days like today for granted.”
VeeKay’s run reduced the points lead to 13 points heading to Watkins Glen so in New York, he has a lot less to lose since he cannot be overtaken in the standings.
“I have less to lose than Oliver so I’m just going for it like every race and then my preparation will have to be very good and we’re going to test there with 10 other drivers,” VeeKay said.
“I’m just going to give everything there and hopefully have more luck than Oliver there and we can get the USF2000 championship and the scholarship.”
Frederick’s podium was his fifth of the season and confirmed that he would finish fourth in the championship no matter what happens in Watkins Glen.
“At the start I was just kind of looking for any gap to get by anybody,” Frederick said.
“I sent it around the outside around (Turn) 2 and got one position and then a really good run on the front straight which got me another position so I think my start’s what really got me up there.
“Then once I got into third I saw Rinus up ahead and so I was just putting my head down, putting in better and better laps, just gaining up on the time and when the yellow came out I was really happy but also kind of nervous because I knew I had two pretty fast drivers behind me.
“I knew that I pulled a gap on Oliver but still, he’s a good driver and so the pressure was definitely on, tried to make a move on Rinus but I couldn’t quite get it done so I’m still happy with the result.”
If VeeKay earns every bonus point possible, Askew must finish on the podium to clinch the championship.