One way to lobby for a full-time job as an NTT IndyCar Series driver is to lead the team on the speed charts, and that’s exactly what Oliver Askew did for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing on Friday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Piloting the No. 45 Honda, the 2019 Indy Lights champion recorded the sixth-best lap on the winding road course; teammates Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato were 17th and 19th, respectively. Although the other RLL drivers are expected to join Askew at the sharper end of the field when practice resumes on Saturday, the team-leading pace can only help as the young American auditions to remain in the car next season.
“First session out here at Laguna Seca, and my first time here in an Indy car,” the 24-year-old said. “My last time I was here was in 2019 with Indy Lights. It’s fantastic to be back, it’s a super tricky circuit but very enjoyable when you get it right and it felt good today, ended up P6 in practice.”
The bar was set high for Askew by his predecessors in the No. 45 entry as Santino Ferrucci and Christian Lundgaard gave RLL plenty to think about when it comes time to settle on one over the others. As the last to drive the No. 45 this season, the pressure will remain on Askew to keep building on Friday’s promising output.
“It’s going to be important for us to build on that in Practice 2 tomorrow and ultimately qualifying tomorrow afternoon,” Askew added. “Our Hy-Vee Honda felt good today and we will see what happens tomorrow.”