Last month, Oliver Askew put together the perfect weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, sweeping the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires events. The victories allowed the Andretti Autosport driver to take over the lead in the standings, six points ahead of Rinus Veekay.
The American recently spoke about his success and outlook for the rest of 2019 with POPULAR OPEN WHEEL.
POPULAR OPEN WHEEL: What did it mean to you to sweep the weekend at COTA?
OLIVER ASKEW: It was pretty fantastic. It was good for us to bounce back from St. Pete and really do what we needed to do there. I think we hit the ground running from a test at COTA a month prior. I think both my teammates and myself got the most out of the equipment and did our job to the best of the ability.
Hopefully we can keep this momentum moving forward. Overall, it was a great weekend for the team and a statement.
POW: Are you feeling any extra pressure on your shoulders knowing the success Andretti Autosport has experienced in Indy Lights the past couple years?
OLIVER: No. If anything, it’s more confidence building than any pressure because going into the race weekend, I knew we’d have a quick car. If anything, it builds confidence and really, it’s a family environment. I feel that I’ve jelled well with the team so far over just the couple of events that we’ve been together.
POW: What are your thoughts as we look towards the Indianapolis GP in May?
OLIVER: I think the thoughts are positive. I’ve had a lot of success with Cape Motorsports the past couple of years and it’s a track that I enjoy; I think I jell well with it, similar to the driving style at COTA. We had a test last November and we showed some good pace, my teammates as well.
Hopefully we can keep the momentum from COTA moving forward and the goal is to keep getting race wins and podiums.
POW: What makes the Indianapolis Road Course a challenge compared to other road courses?
OLIVER: I think it’s a challenge because there’s three really heavy braking zones and three similar corners there. The set-up of the car plays a lot into lap time and results, like most permanent road courses. There’s also two long straightaways so I expect the racing to be as good as we saw in COTA.
So the biggest thing is to maximize braking and get the best performance out of the car in the high speed as well – turn four, and turn seven, eight, nine.
POW: What track are you most looking forward to beyond Indy?
OLIVER: Well so beyond Indianapolis – so that takes out the Speedway. Other than that, Portland and Laguna Seca are good stops for us, as well as Gateway (Motorsports Park). Andretti Autosport dominated the weekend there last year. Mid-Ohio as well, Toronto – the street course will be a variable but I feel we’ll be strong there.
There’s really not a track that we’re going to that’s a big question mark. Like I said before that, the tracks we’re going to, the car is going to be good so it’s confidence inspiring.
POW: What track do you wish was on the schedule that currently isn’t?
OLIVER: That’s a hard question. Maybe Sonoma, or Long Beach. Long Beach – I wish Long Beach was on the schedule.
POW: Who is your racing hero?
OLIVER: My racing hero is Dan Wheldon because he was one of the first professional racing drivers that I met early in my karting career. He’s someone that I’d like to emulate moving forward as a professional driver – not just on the track, but off the track as well.
POW: Given your experience on the Road to Indy thus far, what advice would you give to other up and coming drivers?
OLIVER: The biggest thing is to align yourself with a professional team that has the resources that build yourself as a racing driver. It’s important to have experienced personnel on the team, whether it’s mechanics, engineers, driver coaches; the Road to Indy is all about learning and taking care of all the ups and downs that are involved in motorsports.
Also, getting the most of what’s available off-track because I think the series offers a lot of media opportunities and a lot of contacts that are important in professional open-wheel motorsports. Those are the two biggest things.
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