Oliver Askew: The Winning Habit

Written by Team USA. Posted in Driver Blogs, Feature, Oliver Askew

Published on July 14, 2017 with No Comments

So proud to be a part of the Rising Stars team with fellow Team USA alumni Neil Alberico, Josef Newgarden and Spencer Pigot.

TORONTO, Ont. – The last blog I wrote was just before the Indianapolis Grand Prix a few months ago. A lot has happened since then: I won my first race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and went on to sweep the weekend; I signed with Rising Star Racing; I experienced my first Indianapolis 500; I had my first oval test at Lucas Oil Raceway Park; we had our first mishap of the season at Road America; and I swept my first oval race at Iowa Speedway. All were first-time experiences, which is what this season has been all about. I’m learning on the go while trying to make the most out of every opportunity.

The clean sweep at Indy was fun!

I turned my first laps at IMS last October during the Chris Griffis Memorial Test with Cape Motorsports. The test was originally intended for me to get extra seat time before I left to compete in England for the Team USA Scholarship. Little did I know I would have the opportunity to go back and compete the following year after winning the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200,000 Scholarship Shootout. That experience would prove invaluable this past May, as the Cape Motorsports crew and I showed back up to race at the capitol and swept the weekend. Obviously, Cape Motorsports has a very good feel for car setup around IMS as they’ve always had success there. I am so fortunate to be racing with them this year; what an incredible group of people – the best in the business.

The Indy 500 atmosphere is very special

Soon after the Indianapolis Grand Prix, the road course was blocked off to make way for the 230+ mph oval where IndyCar would spend the next two weeks.

Television does a great job broadcasting the “greatest spectacle in racing” but nothing beats experiencing the Indianapolis 500 in person, which is what I did for the first time this year. The roar of the crowd was immense when the green flag dropped, and to see the hundreds of thousands of fans on their feet all for the same purpose and passion gave me chills. The racing was unbelievable, with 35 lead changes over 500 miles. I now have even more of a drive and an even better vision for where I want to be in the future.

Nicolas (pictured) and Dominic Cape have helped me so much.

My first oval test went down at Lucas Oil Raceway Park which is also in the Indianapolis area. It was literally eye opening, nothing like I had imagined, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Most people think driving in circles is a breeze, but there is so much more to it than what meets the eye. Being comfortable and quick on an oval has a lot to do with car setup, but driving the car properly is just as important. Any movement on the steering wheel and pedals must be extremely smooth and precise, which is a great challenge when you’re trying to drive on edge. I think that is what I enjoy most – trying to be as smooth as possible while getting the most out of the car. Momentum is everything. It brings back a similar feeling from my single-speed karting days.

Road America didn’t go as planned but we still learned a lot.

The next race after the Indianapolis GP happened at the famed four-mile Road America road course. I think we deserved more than what we got out of the result at Elkhart Lake. We had speed and position to fight for the win in the first race on Friday but unfortunately the left-front camber bolt broke while going over the apex curb in Turn Eight. The camber shims eventually fell out on entry to the kink, which was eventful! I nursed the car back to our pit box where my mechanic Will Paul and the Cape Motorsports crew did a great job to fix me up and send me back on track on the lead lap to salvage some important championship points. On Saturday, we were missing some pace but I was able to bounce back from Friday’s disappointment to finish third. Nevertheless, the racing at Road America was the best it has been at any other track so far this year. I enjoyed it and learned a lot.

My first oval race was memorable!

Most recently, the Mazda Road to Indy headed to corn country, Iowa Speedway, located just outside Des Moines. The focus heading into that weekend was to gain our momentum back and leave with maximum points. We were certainly not the fastest car through free practice, but in the back of my mind I knew that the trophy wasn’t being handed out until Sunday afternoon. Dominic Cape and my crew worked tirelessly to make the right improvements to the car for Sunday morning’s qualifying session. After going over data and video from practice I understood I still had a little bit in me. Between the car being absolutely stuck and me holding both my feet on the accelerator we managed pole by 0.3 mph. I was ecstatic and so was my crew. This gave us a huge advantage for the start of the race as it is not the easiest oval to pass on. I took the green flag and never looked back. Like previous races where I started on pole, I consistently pulled a gap in the beginning and then conserved my equipment for the second half of the race. This was my sixth win of the season to tie my racing idol Dan Wheldon among many other successful USF2000 drivers.

I am now focused on the Grand Prix of Toronto this weekend, which I know will turn out to be very enjoyable and exciting. I’ll let you know how it goes.

As always, thank you so much for the support,
Oliver

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