Indy Lights championship leader Oliver Askew made a definite impression during his first NTT IndyCar Series test with the Chip Ganassi Racing team.
Driving Scott Dixon’s No. 9 Honda, the lanky Floridian spent Wednesday lapping Portland International Raceway alongside all four Andretti Autosport Hondas and Indy Lights rival Rinus VeeKay, who made his IndyCar debut in an Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy.
“Oliver had a great amount of poise and total, immediate awareness of his surroundings,” CGR managing director Mike Hull told RACER. “I really liked what he did on used tires, and he wanted to understand the total process of how things work in IndyCar from the start of the test. No surprise at all how he’s gotten to this point in his career on merit. Oliver’s certainly ready for the next rung of the ladder.”
Askew also impressed Dixon’s race engineer Chris Simmons, who praised his chassis feedback. Dixon, the reigning and five-time series champion, was also in attendance to observe and guide the 22-year-old during his first taste of big power and handling.
“I have to say a massive thanks to Chip Ganassi Racing and Mike Hull, and to Scott Dixon for letting me borrow his race-winning car straight from Mid-Ohio!” Askew said. “It was a privilege to have him here looking at my video and data and giving feedback. It was a fun day. Our pace was pretty competitive, and we made some good changes with Chris Simmons.
“I didn’t get to take much of it in as it happened because I was in the car all day trying things and working with the team. But it was very cool and a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
“At first, I didn’t realize how much downforce and grip it had,” Askew said of the CGR Honda. Image by Keith Scott/PNW Motorsports Photography.
Askew credited all he’s learned this year in Indy Lights, where he’s earned six wins from 13 races — including the last three in a row — with Andretti Autosport for making the test a success.
“The steering was heavier in the high-speed corners and lighter in the low-speed than what I’m used to, and there’s some extremely fast corners here,” he added. “At first, I didn’t realize how much downforce and grip it had. The two biggest things were learning the braking potential and the aero potential. I think what I’ve learned this year in Lights has carried over to preparing me for this day.”
Next up for Askew and VeeKay is the race at Gateway, the final oval of the year, and then it’s on to Portland and Monterey as the 2019 Indy Lights title — along with the advancement prize of three IndyCar races, plus an entry for the Indy 500 — will likely be settled between the two young chargers.