Oliver Askew is determined to break the recent trend that has seen the last two Indy Lights champions struggle to establish themselves as full-time participants in the NTT IndyCar Series.
Ed Jones was the last Indy Lights champion to make a full-season debut the following year in IndyCar and, in between, champions Kyle Kaiser and Patricio O’Ward weren’t as fortunate. Although the prize for winning the Lights title includes three IndyCar races plus an entry for the Indianapolis 500, the 2017 and 2018 champs fell short with funding and contested a limited number of events. Both have a tenuous hold on futures in the series.
Since 2010, only Spencer Pigot, the 2015 Lights title winner, has been able to convert a partial IndyCar season into a full-time career, and based on those odds, the 22-year-old from Florida knows that landing a season-long seat is the best way to dodge pitfalls that have stifled so many of his predecessors.
“Definitely, that’s what we’re working towards,” he said. “Right now, we just have the scholarship to provide. But there’s a lot more promotion and exposure that we can provide, so it’s been a bit easier for my agency and myself to promote what we’re doing here. This is probably going to be one of the best off-seasons I’ve had in a while.”
Despite winning his Lights championship with Andretti Autosport, staying with the team and moving up to IndyCar is not an option due to the recent expansion to five cars with Colton Herta coming onboard. An ongoing relationship with Chip Ganassi Racing, which used Askew to test Scott Dixon’s No. 9 Honda in August at Portland, could develop into something beneficial for the lanky American.
“I’m quite confident that we have the right group around me to put myself in a good position, and to be affiliated with a top team next year,” he said. “And the goal is to run a full season. So, nothing short of that, and I feel like that’s the best way for me to get prepared.
“I mean, look at Colton Herta. He’s really put on some strides the last couple of races, and he’s just now getting a feel for the car and a feel for his surroundings in the Indy Car championship. It’s going to take more than three races to really show what I can do. So, that’s for real.”