Motocross: James Stewart out for 2015 after FIM denies appeal

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James Stewart will not be able to line up when the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship gets underway in just over two weeks. The International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) has denied his appeal, meaning that his suspension for a failed drug test – which runs through August 11th, 2015 – will be upheld.

The ruling comes more than a year to the day after the Yoshimura Suzuki rider originally tested positive for a banned substance – later identified as Adderall – after the Seattle Supercross race in 2014.

Although he had a prescription for the drug, Stewart didn’t fill out the required form for a Therapeutic Use Exemption, which resulted in a violation of the drug policy. After a period where he was provisionally suspended but still allowed to race, the FIM hit him with a 16-month suspension in December, retroactive to the time of the drug test. After a lengthy delay from the FIM, Stewart was recently given the chance to appeal the suspension in hopes that he could be cleared to race the Nationals this summer. The FIM’s ruling this week has since eliminated those hopes.

With a return for the season-opening race at Hangtown out of the picture, the former champion – who has been testing with the Yoshimura Suzuki team while awaiting a decision – will now turn his attention to the 2016 season.

“It’s extremely disappointing that my appeal was denied,” Stewart said in a statement from the team. “But I’m glad this is over and now I can turn my full attention back to preparing for the few events I’ll be competing in this year and coming back strong for 2016.”

Proving that he was still an elite talent last season, Stewart swept both motos at the June race at High Point, just days before news of his provisional suspension broke. After the announcement though, he struggled on the track, failing to finish better than eighth overall at any remaining races. He later opted to sit out the final four rounds of the series and ended up ninth overall in 450 Class points.

Stewart is one of the most popular riders in the series and has won three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross titles, including a 450 Class championship in 2008.

This year’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will kick off Saturday, May 16th at Hangtown.

Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew ready for IndyCar ride

Road to Indy
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Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew has done nothing but dominate the 2019 season, winning seven of the 16 races run so far and finishing on the podium in all but two of those events.

Now all the 22-year-old Floridian needs to do to formally clinch the 2019 title is simply start the final two races of the season, both of which will be held this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

For Askew, his maiden Indy Lights season will likely be one he’ll never forget. 

“It’s been a dream come true,” Askew told NBC Sports. “Being with the championship-winning team from last year, we had a really good shot at winning it again for Andretti Autosport. It’s very rare that we show up to a track and struggle to find speed. 

“That’s a fantastic feeling, especially as a driver. That gave me a lot of confidence and hopes of holding the million dollar check at the end of the year. That was the goal going into it.”

This weekend, Askew will accomplish said goal. The championship will not only bring him a sense of pride, but also the opportunity of a lifetime. 

As an award for being crowned the Indy Lights champion, Askew will be awarded a scholarship that guarantees him entry into a minimum of three NTT IndyCar Series events next year – including the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. 

Time will only tell which team Askew will race for in IndyCar next season, and whether or not Askew’s rookie campaign will be a full-time or part-time affair, but Askew’s performance during the last few seasons in the Road to Indy system has certainly drawn attention of IndyCar’s top team owners.

In August, Askew had the chance to drive an Indy car for the first time in his career during a test session at Portland International Raceway, driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda usually piloted by Scott Dixon.

“It was an opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing that I was very fortunate to have,” Askew said. “I think with my experience in the past couple of years with Cape Motorsports and this year with Andretti Autosport, going into that test was very helpful.

“Going into the test, it was more of trying to treat it as just another day at the racetrack, when it really wasn’t. It was a fantastic opportunity for me – a great experience – and I hope I can take that into my rookie season next year in IndyCar.” 

The final two races of the 2019 Indy Lights season will take place this weekend on Saturday, September 21 at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday, September 22 at 12:05 p.m. ET. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

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