Oliver Askew comfortably paced the field en route to winning the pole for the opening race of the doubleheader weekend for Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The current championship leader and driver of the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Dallara IL-15, Askew put down a flying lap at 1 minute, 11.680 seconds to snag his fifth pole of the season. Additionally, it was a sizeable gap to second-place, clearing teammate Robert Megennis (No. 27 Andretti Autosport) by 0.2074 of a second.
"Starting from pole is so important in the race,” said Askew, a four-time winner thus far in 2019.
“Historically, our cars at Andretti Autosport have been super quick here and we showed that again here in qualifying. We were quick at the test last week, so we're just carrying the momentum into this weekend. Looking forward to tomorrow, Q2 and Race 1, we're looking super strong right here.
“We have a lot of pace right now, so the goal is to sweep the weekend."
Toby Sowery (No. 2 BN Racing/Team Pelfrey) posted the third-best time in the session, 0.4527 of a second off the top spot.
Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Juncos Racing) couldn’t reclaim the pace that put him at the top of the timesheets in opening practice, having only a sixth-place starting spot to show for his efforts in qualifying.
The first race for the top rung of the Road to Indy will begin at 12:20 p.m. ET on Saturday and will stream live on NBC Sports Gold. Qualifying for the second race will take place at 9:45 a.m. and will be livestreamed on racecontrol.indycar.com.
Kirkwood marches to pole in Indy Pro 2000
Kyle Kirkwood soared to pole for the opening race of the doubleheader weekend for Indy Pro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires.
The driver of the No. 28 RP Motorsport Racing Tatuus PM-18 put down a monster lap at 1:15.515 (107.645 mph) to claim his third consecutive pole, which bettered second-place qualifier Rasmus Lindh (No. 10 Juncos Racing) by a massive 0.4421 of a second.
"I was behind Rasmus (on track), it wasn't an ideal location, but it worked out pretty well,” Kirkwood said. “The lap before he went quicker than me, but visually it looked like he pulled away so I was in a position where I've got the team yelling at me on the radio, ‘Hey, you've got to push, it's the last lap.’
“I didn't know what my time was previously, I'm just pushing. So I pushed really hard and actually hit all my marks and came out to be four tenths clear of the field which I think is the biggest margin all year."
Parker Thompson (No. 8 Abel Motorsports) came away from the frantic session third, with teammate Jacob Abel (No. 51 Abel Motorsports) in fourth. Ian Rodriguez (No. 5 RP Motorsport Racing) qualified fifth.
Lindh, the current championship leader, managed to pace opening practice in the morning, followed by Kirkwood and Abel.
The green flag will drop for the first race of the middle rung of the Road to Indy at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, with qualifying for the second race set for earlier in the day at 9:10 a.m. Both will stream live on racecontrol.indycar.com.
McElrea claims pole in flawless Friday for Pabst Racing
After leading opening practice, Hunter McElrea backed up the pace to score the pole for the opening race for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.
The driver of the No. 22 Pabst Racing Tatuus USF-17 put down a lap at 1:21.513 (99.724 mph) around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile natural terrain road course. Fresh off his first-ever win on the streets of Toronto, Christian Rasmussen (No. 6 Jay Howard Driver Development) kept the momentum rolling to qualify second, 0.1441 of a second off the top spot.
Team owner Augie Pabst cleaned out the rest of the top five starting spots, with Yuven Sundaramoorthy (No. 21 Pabst Racing), Bruna Tomaselli (No. 24 Pabst Racing) and Colin Kaminsky (No. 23 Pabst Racing) qualifying third through fifth.
It marks just the second pole of the season for McElrea, who currently sits second in the overall championship standings and is in a prime spot to make up the 41-point gap (233-192) after leader Braden Eves (No. 8 Cape Motorsports) qualifyied eighth.
The first race of the weekend for the bottom rung of the Road to Indy will start at 4:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, with qualifying for the second race starting earlier in the day at 8:50 a.m. Both will stream live on racecontrol.indycar.com.