LEXINGTON, OHIO – With the title fight being as close as it is this year in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, Cape Motorsports and Oliver Askew needed to hit all their marks this past weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during the penultimate event on the 2017 schedule. The 19-year-old Florida driver attacked aggressively out of the gate and was rewarded with pole position for Race 1 that set up a 1.328-second win, his seventh victory of the year.
In the second race of the doubleheader, the Mazda Scholarship driver finished fourth and will now head to the season finale at Watkins Glen International on Labor Day weekend with a 13-point lead in the championship standings.
“It was a fantastic weekend by the team as a group,” commented Dominic and Nicholas Cape. “Oliver had another great performance in Race 1, and he led most of the second qualifying session only to run into traffic on the final laps. Unfortunately, at Mid-Ohio, passing is virtually nonexistent at the front, so once the race started, everyone finished in their relative positions. We’re very happy to head to Watkins Glen with the points lead, and we’d like to offer big congratulations to Pabst Racing on their Team Championship.”
Askew was quick out of the box to begin the weekend, timing in third during Thursday afternoon’s first official practice session. Friday morning qualifying for Race 1 went extremely well, as Oliver laid down a lap of 1:24.0935 to win the pole, over six tenths quicker than his championship rival. The bonus point for the pole position was crucial addition to the obvious track position advantage.
The opening race of the doubleheader weekend started well, as Askew took firm hold of the lead from the green flag to set the pace, extending a quick advantage over those battling behind him. Oliver’s Soul Red Cape Motorsports #3 Tatuus USF-17 was perfect throughout the race as he led comfortably through to a full course caution on lap 17, which was brought out for spin by Moises de la Vara. The race would go back to green quickly, and Askew led the field onto the front stretch before again extending his lead during the final run to the checkered flag. The final results highlighted a 1.328-second win over Parker Thompson, in addition to bonus points for fast lap of the race and the most laps led. The only black mark on the day was a ruling by the Race Director docking Oliver 10 points for jumping the start of the race. Series officials deemed that he began rolling on the throttle before the set acceleration zone coming out of the final corner, which resulted in the controversial penalty.
The team put the disappointing ruling behind them and prepped Askew’s car for Race 2 qualifying, which took place on Saturday morning. With the Mid-Ohio track conditions changing constantly, after sitting on top of the heap for most of the session, Askew got stuck behind traffic and had to abort his pole lap. Askew turned in a solid session to qualify third, which would put him right behind the polesitter for the start of the 30-minute race.
In the race, Oliver was focused on getting a clean start to minimize any chance of being caught up in an opening lap incident that would negatively affect his positon in the championship. He slotted into fourth early in the race and then held the position through to the checkered flag. This consistent and mistake-free run has positioned Askew at the top of the USF2000 championship standings by 13 points with just one single race remaining at Watkins Glen International on Labor Day weekend.
DRIVER PERFORMANCE / QUOTES
COOPER TIRES USF2000 CHAMPIONSHIP POWERED BY MAZDA
EVENT #7 – JULY 28-30, 2017
MID-OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE – MANSFIELD, OHIO
OLIVER ASKEW – USF2000 #3
Qualifying 1: 1st – 1:24.0935
Qualifying 2: 3rd – 1:23.3416
Race 1: Start – 1st / Finish – 1st
Race 2: Start – 3rd / Finish – 4th
Driver Quote: “Race 1 went exactly to plan. We qualified on pole by 6 tenths and walked away in the race to win my 7th of the season, my car was on rails. We started third for race two and would eventually finish 4th. We stayed clean all weekend and put ourselves in a very good position to take home my first and Cape Motorsport’s 7th consecutive USF2000 championship at Watkins Glen.