ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. – The opening three events of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda have been extremely successful for reigning series champions Cape Motorsports. The team’s rookie duo has done well, led by Florida’s Oliver Askew. The American finished second in the series opener in St. Petersburg and then ran off a streak of five straight race wins to take firm hold of the point lead.
Askew’s run of wins came to an end this past weekend due to a mechanical issue at the four-mile, 14-turn Road America, but he still added another podium finish to his point total during the doubleheader with a third-place finish in Race 2. Askew’s teammate Ricky Donison finished 15th in the first race, and then fought back to score his third top-10 of the year on Saturday.
“This is an extremely competitive field of drivers and Oliver raced hard to gain valuable points in the championship,” commented Dominic and Nicholas Cape, team owners. “It got pretty wild out there and Oliver showed his maturity to stay out of trouble all weekend. Ricky continues to improve each time he hits the track and we’re pleased with his top-10 run on Saturday. He had to comeback from issues in Race #1 as well.”
The USF2000 drivers took to the track for a lone practice session on Thursday afternoon ahead of Friday morning qualifying for Race 1. Overnight rains presented a damp but drying racing surface for the qualifying session, as times dropped over 10 seconds from start to finish during the short 20-minute session. As the dry line developed and widened, grip levels increased and the times dropped, Askew looked to have the pole secured, but he was edged on the final lap by David Malukas. Donison struggled for grip during the cool morning session and posted the 17th fastest time, putting him on the ninth row of the grid.
The opening race of the doubleheader was held on Friday afternoon in dry and much warmer conditions. Askew got a strong start and settled into the lead pack, eventually working his way into second after falling back to fifth early on. The impressive rookie looked primed to battle for the race win, but it was not to be, and he suffered a late-race mechanical problem that required a trip to pit lane. The young American would return to the track and was officially classified in 17th. Donison advanced quickly from his row nine start into the top-10, and he fell back after having to take evasive action to avoid an incident in front of him. Ricky again closed on the pack ahead of him, but he too needed to head to pit lane with a mechanical issue.
Qualifying for Race 2 was more positive for Donison, advancing three positions up the grid to start 14th. Askew was again on pace and put his Soul Red Mazda Motorsports Tatuus on the outside of the front row for the start.
At the green, Askew got a clean start, slotting into third through the opening laps before a full course caution was shown when Jacob Loomis and Darren Keane got together in turn six. This incident advanced Donison to 13th. Over the course of the remaining laps, Ricky ran well and was paid off with his third top-10 finish of the year. Askew was also able to remain in the battle for the race win, and eventually crossed the finish line in third.
The team will be back in action in just over a week when the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda heads to Iowa Speedway for their first and only oval race of the year. Askew holds a 24-point lead in the championship chase and both he and Donison are primed and ready to tackle the 7/8-mile banked oval.
DRIVER PERFORMANCE / QUOTES
COOPER TIRES USF2000 CHAMPIONSHIP POWERED BY MAZDA
EVENT #4 – JUNE 22-24, 2017
ROAD AMERICA – ELKHART LAKE, WI
OLIVER ASKEW – USF2000 #2
Qualifying 1: 2nd – 2:13.697
Qualifying 2: 2nd – 2:10.818
Race 1: 17th
Race 2: 2nd
Driver Quote: “I expected the racing this weekend to be much closer than it has been at any other track so far this season; it’s the nature of Road America. Unfortunately, in race one, I encountered a mechanical issue and I needed to head to the pit lane for a repair after having the possibility to win. The Cape Motorsports crew and my mechanic Will Paul did a great job to get me back on track on the lead lap to salvage some crucial championship points. We finished third in race two, and I think this was the best we could do with the pace we had. I have to say a big ‘thank you’ to Mazda Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to be here, and Cape Motorsports for giving me the best possible equipment and preparation to compete at the top. Also, a big thanks to Rising Star Racing, the Team USA Scholarship, Bell Helmets, and MOMO USA.”
RICKY DONISON – USF2000 #3
Qualifying 1: 17th – 2:18.226
Qualifying 2: 14th – 2:12.410
Race 1: 15th
Race 2: 10th
Driver Quote: “Coming into the weekend, I knew it was going to be a difficult weekend as Road America is the longest and most technical track on the calendar. The races were tough and because of the mistakes that I made in both qualifying sessions, I put myself in a bad position for both races. I’m making the progress I need, and I would like to thank my team, and I’m now extremely excited for my first ever oval race at Iowa Speedway in a few weeks.”