Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI: VeeKay clinches Pro Mazda title as Askew wins Race 1

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Race 1 for the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires saw a new race winner in 2018 as Oliver Askew, who ranks third in the Pro Mazda championship, took his maiden Pro Mazda win while Rinus VeeKay finished second to clinch the 2018 Pro Mazda championship.

VeeKay started on the pole, but it was Askew who led coming out of the Festival Curves, with Parker Thompson sitting third.

Oliver Askew took his first win of 2018 in Race 1. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Askew led the rest of the way, keeping VeeKay a safe distance behind him at all times, but VeeKay’s second-place effort was more than enough to secure the 2018 Pro Mazda championship.

VeeKay took the points lead from Parker Thompson after Race 1 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and he increased the gap from there – he led Thompson by 47 points entering the weekend – to enter Portland needing only to start one of the races to clinch the title.

As such, VeeKay will move to the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires next year.

Thompson finished third, followed by David Malukas and Robert Megennis. Sting Ray Robb, Nikita Lastochkin, and Moises de la Vara rounded out the running order.

Results are below. Race 2 rolls off at 5:15 p.m. ET (2:15 local time).

USF2000: Kirkwood Extends Win Streak to 10 in a Row

Kyle Kirkwood took his 11th win of 2018, and 10th in a row, during USF2000 Race 1. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Kyle Kirkwood continued his domination of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda by winning Race 1 at Portland on Saturday.

Kirkwood, who started on the pole, rocketed away into the lead and went unchallenged most of the way. He needed to survive a restart with four laps remaining –  both Kaylen Frederick and Rasmus Lindh tried to get around him but overshot the Festival Curves in the process – but he held everyone at bay to take the his 11th win of the season and 10th in a row.

Igor Fraga and Calvin Ming finished second and third, with Kory Enders finishing fourth and Lindh rebounding to finish fifth. Frederick ended up finishing eighth.

Results are below. Race 2 rolls off at 6:20 p.m. ET (3:20 p.m. local time).

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Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?