Arrow McLaren SP’s bold call to sign two kids with an average age of 22 to lead was rewarded once again with Oliver Askew’s stunning runs to third on Friday and sixth on Saturday in the Iowa doubleheaders.
Combined with teammate Pato O’Ward’s second-place finish at the second Road America race, and his fourth directly behind Askew Friday night, AMSP’s youth movement is indeed making moves as the 2020 IndyCar season nears the halfway point.
“I’m feeling really good, and this weekend was exactly what we needed after tough couple of races in the No. 7 Arrow Chevy,” Askew told RACER. “I came into weekend with a new haircut and new mentality, and showed these guys what I could do.”
Coming off finishes of 26th, 15th, and 21st in the three races leading up to Iowa, Askew found himself standing next to Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and five-time champion Scott Dixon on the Iowa Round 1 podium, then chasing Dixon and Pagenaud home again in Round 2. The 2019 Indy Lights champion is pleased with the on-track company he’s been keeping.
“To be finishing around and racing wheel-to-wheel around multiple-time champions and Indy 500 winners … it’s what I need to be doing as a rookie,” he said. “The Arrow McLaren team, Team Chevy, and all our sponsors made sure we didn’t put a wheel wrong all weekend. Both Pato and I get along really well, there’s great chemistry with the team, and hopefully this is just the start of big things.”
Askew is also fond of how he and O’Ward have been able to elevate AMSP to fight among IndyCar’s most successful teams even as the two rookies are learning on the job.
“I think a lot of people from the outside looking in might think it was risky to bring two rookies into a well-established team, and wonder, ‘How would they do?” he added. “It’s a long-term project here with what we’re doing together; it’s a good start, and we can fight and deserve to be going for the top.
“It all comes down to how passionate we are, how many questions we ask, and how involved we are with each other.”
Behind Askew’s No. 7 Chevy, race engineer Blair Perschbacher, who led Robert Wickens to the front of the field in 2018, has been a big influence in the 23-year-old’s rapid growth.
“I like Blair a lot; we get along really well because we like to fly under the radar and be there in the end,” he said. “We take every weekend and every session as they come. We have very good dialogue on the engineering trailer, and he’s worked with rookies the last four years, so this isn’t new for him.
“We have high expectations for each other,” Askew added. “Hopefully we can build on this and build on this relationship. It’s all about the chemistry and energy in the team.”