Oliver Askew: One Year On

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

Published on August 08, 2017 with No Comments

JUPITER, Fla. – It’s hard to believe this season is already coming to an end. Time goes by so fast when we’re always focused on preparing for the next event. It can be difficult for me to pause and enjoy what I’ve accomplished over the past year when there is often a flurry of activity around me. I try to find as much time as I can to be thankful, gracious, reflective and relaxed. The chances of me getting here in the first place seemed to be so slim; but it was just a matter of opportunity and preparation intersecting perfectly. I will always stay extremely thankful for the people who have believed in me and have opened doors.

With one race remaining at Watkins Glen, N.Y., on September 3, we continue to hold the lead in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, by 13 points.

The past couple of rounds have been interesting to say the least. The Indy GP of Toronto was one of the greatest circuits and events I’ve ever been to and it was certainly one of the most challenging circuits I’ve ever raced on. With all the different bumps and changes of asphalt around the track, I had my hands full. The most difficult aspect of street racing is having no margin for error. I find that on these temporary circuits with little rubber going down, there is only one narrow racing line through the corners. By going off line just a few inches, there is a dramatic decrease in grip and you’ll be lucky to stay off the wall. (I learned that the hard way during practice at St. Pete earlier in the year!) It is important to find a rhythm and hit every single apex.

After finishing second in the first race of the weekend, my Cape Motorsports prepared car was a beauty to drive in qualifying for the second race when I felt like I had the best qualifying session of my career so far. Our Cooper Tires reach optimum grip levels at the end of the 20-minute session, and pole position was swapped over a dozen times until the end when I posted my quickest lap on the last lap for pole position by two tenths of a second. Unfortunately, after being passed by the two colliding drivers in the early stages, that race didn’t last very long for us as we got caught up in someone else’s incident coming out of Turn Three. Still, we left the legendary street race with second and 12th-place finishes and our points lead intact.

The penultimate round of the championship was held a week or so ago at the classic Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. This weekend was particularly special for me because it marked one year from when I began my journey in North American open-wheel racing. The Team USA Scholarship interviews are held at Mid-Ohio every year over the Indy 200 weekend, and I remember vividly being there as a Team USA contestant last year, wishing that I could one day compete in the Mazda Road to Indy. I didn’t know anyone and I was super anxious to answer questions in front of the 15 well-known judges. I know what this year’s contestants are going through and I thought it was important for me to give them as much advice as I could. What a difference it has been to go back to the same place this year leading the USF2000 championship.

After the weekend was all said and done, the Cape Motorsports crew and I finished with one pole position, one win, and one fourth-place finish. Unfortunately, I received a 10-point jump-start penalty in race one, which has turned into another crucial learning opportunity for me. The important point is we stayed clean and still hold the championship advantage heading into the final round. We now have about one month off before Watkins Glen, although Cape Motorsports and I will be testing there this week with a few other USF2000 teams to get ready.

I’d like to thank Mazda Motorsports, Cape Motorsports, Rising Star Racing, the Team USA Scholarship, SAFEisFAST.com, MC Racing and Bell Helmets USA for their continued support in my career.

As always, thank you so much for reading,

Photos courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

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