INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After an extremely competitive weekend, Cape Motorsports now holds the track record on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for both the USF2000 and Pro Mazda components of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires.
Reigning Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda champion Oliver Askew demolished the old track record on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course by over three seconds enroute to the pole for both races of the weekend’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires doubleheader, and he still hold the USF2000 mark from his 2017 performance.
The Florida driver steered his #3 Soul Red Mazda Scholarship Tatuus PM-18 to third in the opening race and then backed up the result was a tremendous comeback run to fourth after receiving a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact early in the race. Teammate Nikita Lastochkin notched a pair of top-10s, finishing sixth and ninth in the two events to strengthen his spot in the top-10 in the championship standings.
“I thought the Pro Mazda effort by Oliver and Nikita was first rate, they gave everything, and the team was awesome,” commented Dominic and Nicholas Cape. “Pole at Indy is kind of like dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight. You’re kind of a sitting duck, but it was still a great effort by all. Time to get the oval game on!”
Askew was dominant in qualifying after topping the official practice session on Thursday afternoon, setting a new track record at 1:19.3319. Lastochkin was less than a second back to put him on the outside of the fifth row for the start of Race 1. At the start of the opening event, Askew went a little too deep on the brakes into turn one and had to go off-track, dropping back to eighth as the field streamed by. This set-up an incredible recovery, with Oliver taking advantage of two full course caution periods to race back to a remarkable second. Lastochkin ran his best race of the year as well, pressuring point leader Parker Thompson over the final circuits to finish sixth.
In the second race, Askew led from the green flag but fell to fourth over the opening laps. After battling aggressively for the lead, he received a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact on lap 7. A full course caution allowed Oliver to get back in the mix, and he would finish fourth in the final tally. Lastochkin was involved in several spirited battles and finished seventh to cap the weekend.
The team is now hard at work setting the cars up for speedway competition, as the series will return to the 5/8-mile banked Lucas Oil Raceway on Friday, May 25 for the Carb Night Classic. The Pro Mazda drivers will compete in the Freedom 90, following the completion of the Indy Lights Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
CAPE MOTORSPORTS – DRIVER RESULTS AND QUOTES
PRO MAZDA – ROUNDS 5/6 – MAY 10-12, 2018
GRAND PRIX OF INDIANAPOLIS – INDIANAPOLIS, IN
OLIVER ASKEW – #3
Qualifying 1: 1st – 1:19.3319
Qualifying 2: 3rd – 1:20.1683
Race 1: Start – 1st / Finish – 2nd
Race 2: Start – 1st / Finish – 4th
Driver Quote: “I am really happy to be back contending for pole positions and race victories. I think we had the most competitive car in the field all weekend. Race 1 was one of the best races of my career, falling back to eighth on the start, managing a couple restart collisions, and making moves on several championship contenders to finish in second. I am proud of the whole team for their continued hard work, and I can’t wait to carry this new confidence into the rest of the season.”
NIKITA LASTOCHKIN – #8
Qualifying 1: 10th – 1:20.2678
Qualifying 2: 11th – 1: 21.1570
Race 1: Start – 10th / Finish – 8th
Race 2: Start – 11th / Finish – 7th
Driver Quote: “It was quite a messy weekend with lots of room for improvement on my end. I just could not get into the rhythm and was off the pace in qualifying. Race 1 was okay, the pace was there to run upfront and it looked to be a top-five result, but I just could not get a good restart. Race 2 was a bit cautious to start, but once I got clean air, my pace was same as the leaders at the time. I made a bit of optimistic pass, which ended up with a penalty and a broken suspension piece. I felt like it could have been avoided if the other car had left me just a bit more room. The team did a great job to made a quick repair in the pits and, thanks to them, I was able to finish few laps higher in a big mess of a race.”