If his team could award points for character and effort leaving St. Petersburg, Oliver Askew would hold a massive lead in the NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year standings.
The defending Indy Lights champion isn’t the first driver to help their team break down pit equipment and pack the transporter, and he won’t be the last; but the folks at Arrow McLaren SP were definitely impressed by the young Floridian’s efforts to assist in areas that are well below his pay grade.
After the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was cancelled on Friday, and faced with the need to load the Nos. 5 and 7 AMSP Chevys and all of the related items required to run and service both cars, the 23-year-old’s help was most unexpected.
As most drivers headed for their hotels to grab their belongings and find a flight home, Askew demonstrated a team-first approach that caught the eye of engineers and managers alike.
“I think that Oliver helping load up the pit equipment in St. Pete just shows who he is,” Blair Perschbacher, Askew’s race engineer on the No. 7 entry, told RACER. “He is willing to do whatever it takes to make the team better. He was the first to text the No. 7 team and say how sorry he was the race was being cancelled and we wouldn’t get to show how good we were going to be as a team this year. He has approached our driver/engineer relationship the same way.
“Whatever he can do to make the car and himself better – being prepared for test days, sim sessions, gym workouts – he is doing it. I think it is very refreshing to see how hard both drivers are willing to work to make this season a success, and I can’t wait for it to get started.”
Nick Snyder, AMSP’s performance director, recognized Askew’s efforts through a post on social media (“In my 18 year racing career, I’ve never had a driver help tear down the pits”) and it wasn’t long before Taylor Kiel, the team’s managing director, offered similar praise for the rookie, and for his teammate, Pato O’Ward.
Diving in with AMSP’s pit crew to expedite the grunt work won’t make Askew’s car faster on the road, nor will it make his team work harder. But, in the times where extra effort is needed to recover from adversity, or finding the energy to perform a few extra practice pit stops becomes a challenge, it’s moments like Friday where the No. 7 crew will summon the inspiration.
“Oliver works his ass off, and that will be what propels him to the top,” Kiel said.