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Urrutia scores a dramatic Indy Lights pole at Watkins Glen

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Santiago Urrutia has the pole for today’s Mazda Grand Prix of Watkins Glen, the second-to-last race weekend of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season.

Urrutia can thank a final banker lap for the pole position because his fastest lap was actually disallowed after the qualifying session.

The driver of the No. 55 Soul Red Mazda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian banked a 1:32.2997 lap around the 3.37-mile Watkins Glen International circuit, which beat the old track record set by Wade Cunningham in 2007 (1:36.7418) by nearly a full 4.5 seconds.

That lap time did not stand as Urrutia was adjudged to have impeded another car’s progress at Turn 6; the Uruguayan told the media in the post-qualifying press conference though he had spun, and that’s why he was slow at that point of the track.

Nonetheless, a flier on his in lap of 1:32.4144 was enough to secure his third straight pole position.

Teammate Andre Negrao was second, and the pair look to continue their run of form on the road courses; combined they have six podiums in their last six combined starts.

Ed Jones and Kyle Kaiser are on Row 2 with the remaining three championship contenders, Zach Veach, Felix Serralles and Dean Stoneman, in fifth, sixth and seventh.

The 25-lap race rolls off today just after 1:30 p.m. ET while it will air at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday on NBCSN.

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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