Oliver Askew beat Andretti Autosport Indy Lights team-mate Ryan Norman to the finish line of the Freedom 100 by just 0.0067s to win the 17th edition of the prestigious race.
Askew and Norman were part of the ever-changing battle for the race lead during the 40 laps that also included Juncos Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, and for some periods his team-mate Dalton Kellet, and the joint BN Racing/Team Pelfrey entry driven by Toby Sowery.
For the eight green flag laps after the second caution period Norman was either in first or second, with slipstreaming keeping the front pack close.
Norman and Askew made up the lead battle for the final two laps, with Norman passing Askew with two corners to go. Askew though was able to get a good run out of the final turn to pip Norman to the victory over the yard of bricks.
Askew now takes over the Indy Lights championship lead from third placed finisher and early leader VeeKay.
Sowery was on a charge behind the lead two prior to colliding with poleman Robert Megennis in the second half of the race, a incident where remarkably both escaped without damage despite Megennis entering a half-spin.
Regardless, the crash caused a yellow flag period and Sowery was sent to the back of the pack for the restart. Within a few laps he was back with the lead gaggle, and split the two Juncos cars in fourth.
Kellett finished fifth ahead of Indy Lights debutant Jarett Andretti, who set the fastest lap at 194.610mph.
Chris Windom (Belardi Auto Racing/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing) and David Malukas (BN Racing) were the only retirements after being involved in a major accident on the opening lap which brought out a red flag so that the Turn 4 wall could be repaired.
Malukas’s car got loose and in letting it drift free he ended up spinning into the path of Windom. With nowhere to go, Windom propelled into Malukas, shuttling both into the barrier.
The momentum cast Windom up the wall and onto Malukas’s head, with one of his tyres making contact with his helmet, but thankfully Malukas was released from the medical centre with only whiplash reported.
Championship returnee Aaron Telitz had to return to the pits on the warm-up lap due to a driveshaft issue on his car. While he missed the start, Belardi was able to get him back out before the race restarted on lap five and he finished ninth.
Race results (40 laps)
|BN Racing/Team Pelfrey
|Belardi Auto Racing
|Belardi Auto Racing
|BAR/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing
|Fastest lap: Andretti, 194.610mph
1?Askew 190 ??2?Askew 179 ??3?Megennis 146 ??4?Sowery 139? ?5?Norman 128? ?6?Zachary Claman DeMelo 124? ?7?Malukas 116? ?8?Kellett 101? ?9?Kohl 98? ?10?Julien Falchero 66