Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda points leader Oliver Askew held an advantage of 13 markers heading into the series’ last race of 2017 at Watkins Glen with Rinus VeeKay taking the victory and Askew clinching the championship.
- RESULTS: 2017 Watkins Glen USF2000 Race
Askew started the race alongside VeeKay after topping the qualifying session on Saturday morning. By the time the two reached the bus stop chicane, VeeKay had pulled in front of Askew and into the lead.
By the end of Lap 2, VeeKay’s lead in the No. 21 Pabst Racing Mazda had grown to 1.7 seconds and four laps later, the gap to Askew was 3.5 seconds.
With five minutes to go in the 30-minute race, VeeKay’s advantage stood at 5.7 seconds and he went on to take the checkered flag by 9.6 seconds over Askew.
“I’m happy but I could be happier,” VeeKay said after the race. “I hadn’t really planned to pass Oliver at the start but I saw him brake for the inside and I went for the outside and all of the sudden I passed him.
“We had a good race down the back straight but I didn’t want to give the position back. I think he backed off to be sure of the position for the championship, but I put my head down and got away from the field.”
The Cape Motorsports driver, however, didn’t need to win the race to secure the championship. Even dropping to third would have allowed Askew to win his second consecutive scholarship from Mazda.
— MRTI—The Apex (@ApexMRTI) September 2, 2017
With VeeKay’s bonus points for leading the most laps and setting the race’s fast lap, Askew ended the season with seven more points than the Dutchman.
“I’ve dreamed about this moment for so long,” said Askew after his championship victory. “It’s such a huge weight off my shoulders, to be champion.
“My learning curve has been really steep this year but I’ve had so many great people around me who have helped me progress. I learned something every day at the racetrack.
“I’m so happy to be able to continue my relationship with Mazda and Cooper Tires, they’ve helped me so much. Thanks also to Team USA Scholarship for giving me the opportunity, and Rising Star Racing.
“This is not going to sink in for a while — I can’t wait for next year!”
VeeKay’s teammate Calvin Ming finished in the third position just a half-second behind Askew after starting sixth. Ming managed to stay close to Askew throughout the race.
The combined performance of VeeKay and Ming throughout the season earned Pabst top honors in the teams’ championship.
Team Pelfrey’s Kaylen Frederick advanced one position to finish fourth while BN Racing’s David Malukas completed the top five, advancing nine positions from the start of the race.
Andres Gutierrez, Kory Enders, Darren Keane, Lucas Kohl and Robert Megennis rounded out the top 10.
The series heads into its offseason and with a renewed agreement with Green Savoree Promotions, it’s poised to return in March alongside the Verizon IndyCar Series at the 2018 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.