The connection between Oliver Askew, his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing engineer Brandon Fry, and his teammates Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato continues to grow in a positive direction.
Signed to a three-race deal to drive the No. 45 Honda, Askew said he’s loving the experience so far after qualifying ninth for last weekend’s Portland Grand Prix behind Rahal in sixth, and leading the team on Saturday in Monterey as the only RLL driver to make it into the Firestone Fast Six. For the second day in a row, the Floridian was the standout performer among the seasoned veterans.
Although it’s incumbent upon the 24-year-old to convince RLL’s leadership to keep him in the car for 2022 and beyond, Askew’s main takeaways after qualifying fifth weren’t of the personal sort — they revolved around the team.
“It’s a great atmosphere here,” the 2019 Indy Lights champion told RACER. “[RLL president] Piers Phillips, Bobby Rahal, Mike Lanigan, and just everybody is really encouraging and creating a warm environment to work from. My engineer Brandon Fry and I have worked together before when I was in karts, and we’ve found something great between us now in IndyCar.
“Everything we’re doing with the Hy-Vee Honda is all about the big picture at the moment. Graham and Taku and I hit it off right away and we’re all helping to move each other forward. We’re building our relationships and also trying to move the group forward. We’re pushing each other, looking at each other’s data after the sessions, and the engineers are really amazing to work with. The car’s been enjoyable to drive, and I have an understanding of how to extract performance from the car. I’ve never been happier.”
The start to the Portland GP set Askew on a day-long adventure after a spin on the opening lap blighted his chances. He’s looking to the start of Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix as a prime chance to forget Portland and show his racecraft in the No. 45 Honda.
“For my goals, I’d like to get through the first turn clean, and since we’re starting in the top five, if we don’t make any mistakes, I think we can finish up front,” Askew added. “It’s all to play for. I’m going to go into the race trying to have fun, because that’s what I’ve been having every session in the car, and go try to keep moving things forward for the team.”