When Oliver Askew won the Mazda Road to Indy $200K Scholarship Shootout, everybody knew they had to keep their eyes on him entering the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season.
He lived up to the expectations, taking home the series title.
“I just got home now from the final (Verizon IndyCar Series) race at Sonoma, and had a great time,” Askew told POPULAR OPEN WHEEL. “I mean, I haven’t been home since I won the championship so now it’s starting to sink in. It’s been a whirlwind.
“Definitely a team effort between the team, myself, and all my sponsors. I have to thank Mazda Racing for the opportunity to be here, and Cape Motorsports for giving me a great program for the whole year.”
The 20-year-old was fast right from the season-opener, scoring a runner-up in the first round at St. Petersburg. From there, he scored five straight victories, including a sweep at Indianapolis Motor Speedway which is his most memorable moment from 2017 outside of clinching the title in the finale.
“That weekend, we completely dominated and showed what we were capable of for the rest of the season,” he said. “I think that was a big turning point in the season, and how things went after that.”
Through the second half of the year, Askew only placed outside of the top-four twice, picking up another pair of victories.
While the celebrations have been great, though, he isn’t wasting any time with his focus already shifting to what’s ahead in 2018.
“I’m super excited for next year,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like the season has ended. I feel like the season has just started. It has taken a lot of weight off my shoulders, for sure, and I see 2018 starting right now.”
By winning the championship, he has a scholarship from Mazda Racing that will allow him to run the full Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires schedule with the soul red livery once again.
“I’m really happy to continue my relationship with Mazda Racing,” he said. “They’re a great group of people, and I’m fortunate to be part of their program. There are a lot of drivers that have through that program and had a lot of success.
“I’m excited. It’s going to be a new car this year, something that nobody has driven yet so it will level the playing field. I’m looking forward to testing and getting prepared for the year to come. I’m looking forward to it.”
For any driver on the Mazda Road to Indy, the ultimate goal is to race in the Verizon IndyCar Series one day, which is an opportunity that Askew says would be “surreal” if it happened.
“Ever since I was 10 years old, I started to get figure out everything, and IndyCar was where I wanted to be,” he said. “There’s something about Indianapolis, open-wheel racing, and IndyCar racing today that I truly see myself being involved in.”
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