Harrison Scott secured a hard-earned victory in this afternoon’s Royal Purple Synthetic Motor Oil Grand Prix of Indianapolis supporting the Lupus Foundation of America at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix road course. Last year’s runaway Euroformula Open champion fought his way to the front, then held off a determined challenge from polesitter Oliver Askew (Cape Motorsports) to claim his second successive checkered flag in Round Five of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
Askew claimed his best result since winning last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – the first rung on the Mazda Road to Indy open-wheel development ladder – while Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing) finished third.
The day began perfectly for Askew, 21, who claimed pole position for both of this weekend’s races during a pair of 20-minute qualifying sessions this morning. The race start also went well as he accelerated into the lead, only to leave his braking for Turn 1 a fraction too late. Instead of remaining in the lead, he ran wide onto the grass and slipped to sixth as VeeKay, his primary rival from last year, took full advantage.
VeeKay’s teammate, Carlos Cunha, also profited from the first-corner shenanigans by vaulting from sixth to second ahead of third-place qualifier Scott, then David Malukas (BN Racing) and Robert Megennis in a third Juncos Racing Tatuus-Mazda PM-18.
The top two had completed the first lap with a handy lead over their pursuers, but that advantage began to dwindle almost as quickly as it had appeared. Malukas was the man on the charge in the opening stages. The youngster nipped past Scott on lap 2, then posted the fastest laps of the race as he quickly closed onto the tail of the two leaders.
Following a brief full-course caution to clear away the stricken car of Megennis, whose promising run ended after just one lap due to a mechanical problem, Cunha’s attempt to pass his teammate at Turn 1 ended in much the same way as did Askew’s bid to secure the lead at the start. Cunha ran in far too deep, slipped into the grass, and in an instant was relegated from second to sixth.
A little farther around the lap, Malukas’ charge continued as he drew alongside VeeKay along Hulman Boulevard and then took the lead into Turn 7. Malukas, however, had driven all four wheels over the white line at the edge of the race track while making the pass. And since he had already been warned by Race Control following a similar move earlier in the race, he was promptly assessed a drive-through penalty.
VeeKay thereby regained the lead, only to lose it again on lap 16 when Scott made a fine pass under braking for Turn 1. Moments later, the caution flags waved following an engine failure for Team Pelfrey’s Andres Gutierrez.
Scott narrowly held off the attentions of Askew during a five-lap dash to the finish to claim RP Motorsport Racing’s second successive PFC Award as the winning team. VeeKay and Cunha also were in close attendance at the checkered flag. The top four were separated by just 1.5950 seconds.
Parker Thompson, who held a slim championship lead following his win last month at Barber Motorsports Park, earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award after rising from 11th on the grid. The Canadian was especially grateful to his Exclusive Autosport team, which completed an impressively rapid engine change earlier in the day.
Still, his efforts weren’t quite enough to prevent VeeKay from turning a two-point deficit into a two-point advantage, 121-119, heading into tomorrow’s sixth round, which is slated to start at 10:10 a.m. ET.
Coverage can be found on a series of platforms including Road to Indy TV, the Road to Indy TV App and dedicated broadcast channels on demand via Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku and, most recently, the Xbox One Official App as well as live streaming and live timing on promazda.com and racecontrol.indycar.com.