Last December, Mazda Road to Indy hosted the inaugural Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout – putting some of the best young talented open-wheel racers and go-karters against each other, each vying for the prize. In the end, it was Oliver Askew that walked away as the winner.
“For so long, I’d been working towards getting enough funds to run a full season in car racing, preferably in USF2000 and Mazda Road to Indy, so I was ecstatic when I found out that I won it,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I think out of all the guys that were there competing, I think I wanted it more than most of them. I put everything I had into that one chance. I think I’m very happy with where I am now, and we’ll see what happens.”
Since then, he has taken full advantage of the opportunity ahead of him in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Presented by Mazda, as he led throughout pre-season testing. Being able to get comfortable real quick was something which came naturally for Askew.
“For me – most of the drivers will disagree – but it’s a similar driving style to the old car and I’ve been doing a lot of testing in the old car,” he said. “To get into the new car, it’s not much different for me. I come from a karting background, and maybe the new car is a little bit somewhat like driving a go-kart more than the old car, but yeah I feel comfortable with it.”
He then went to St. Petersburg for the first round of the season, scoring a runner-up in his debut, followed by a win in the second event.
“I’m extremely happy to leave in the points lead, that’s for sure,” he said. “I think through testing we were really strong and to solidify that after the first round, especially in a street race is extremely good. I know we’re going to be even better when we go to the tracks like Barber and Mid-Ohio. I think we have a good package there, too. Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. It was my first street race, so I had to learn a lot in the beginning, and eventually I got comfortable with it.”
With such a strong start to the season as a rookie, Askew says it doesn’t change his approach to the rest of the season, with points still being “the most important right now.”
“Winning races would be great, but the championship is the most important,” he continued. “So my mindset is to stay out front and do the best that I can. I’m sure it’ll work out in the end.”
He’ll hope to carry the momentum to Barber Motorsports Park for the next event at the end of April, where he enters with confidence on his side as it’s the track he is most looking forward to this season.
“We were there for a few days in the off-season testing, and I think we have the unofficial track record,” he said. “I’m sure that’s going to be broken once more rubber gets laid down on the track, but I felt real comfortable there, and I absolutely love that track. I think we have a good set-up for it, also. Cape (Motorsports) has been strong there in the past, too, so we’ll see what happens.”
Beyond Barber, he also feels the events at Road America and Mid-Ohio will be a good fit for him, as well.
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