Dutchman VeeKay Finishes Second to Narrow Points Deficit to Crash-Affected Askew
TORONTO, Ont., Canada – For the second day in a row, Canadian Parker Thompson guided his Exclusive Autosport Tatuus USF-17 to a hard-won victory in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products. The native of Red Deer, Alb., was assisted on this occasion by an incident which eliminated the top three contenders, including Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda points leader Oliver Askew. Thompson then had to work hard to keep fellow teenager Rinus VeeKay, from The Netherlands, behind him.
Also for the second successive day, Pabst Racing’s VeeKay earned an extra championship point for posting the fastest lap of the race. He now trails Askew by only 18 points with just three races remaining this season.
Kaylen Frederick, 15, from Potomac, Md., also impressed for Team Pelfrey, claiming the Tilton Hard Charger Award as he rose from 13th on the grid to third at the checkered flag.
Askew started from the pole for Cape Motorsports, having posted a new qualifying lap record yesterday, but came under pressure immediately from fellow front row qualifier David Malukas (BN Racing). When the two leaders both left their braking a fraction too late and slid wide in Turn Three, Anglo-Frenchman Alex Baron (ArmsUp Motorsports) was perfectly positioned to take advantage and advance from third to first in one fell swoop. Askew continued in second, but Malukas was determined to use his pace to its fullest effect.
Thompson and VeeKay also were in close attendance as the five leaders edged clear of Team Pelfrey’s Robert Megennis and the remainder of the field. Malukas snuck past Askew for second place in Turn Eight on Lap Four, and immediately began to put the pressure on Baron, who was turning consistent laps at the front of the pack.
Malukas drew alongside Baron several times on the drag race along Lake Shore Boulevard, only for Baron to ensure he held the preferred inside line under braking for Turn Three. Finally, on the ninth lap, Baron slipped a little wide at the exit, whereupon Malukas dived for the inside as they accelerated uphill out of the hairpin before making contact with the rear of Baron’s car and spinning him around. A close-following Askew also was involved.
Thompson and VeeKay managed to avoid the spinning cars and inherited the top two positions as the Safety Car was deployed to clear the track.
Thompson romped clear at the restart to claim his third win in two years on the streets of Exhibition Place just a few miles from downtown Toronto, while VeeKay charged hard to close the gap and finished just 0.6379 second in arrears.
Frederick charged through to seventh prior to the caution and, despite losing a position to Devin Wojcik (ArmsUp Motorsports) soon after the restart, quickly regrouped and continued his forward progress to finish fourth.
Darren Keane (Newman Wachs Racing), from Parkland, Fla., also drove a fine race, raising from 11th on the grid to fourth ahead of Megennis and Wojcik, who claimed a season-best sixth.
Exclusive Autosport team owner Michael Duncalfe, from Saskatoon, Sas., Canada, claimed his second successive PFC Award as the winning car owner, while Keane secured the Staubli Award.
Askew leads the championship with 283 points to VeeKay’s 265 as the USF2000 contenders head next to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for another double-header event on July 28-30.
Parker Thompson (#91 Exclusive Autosport Openhwy): “I’m surprised I still have a voice! What a feeling, to get two in ‘TO’ in front of the Canadian fans! I’d say this is unbelievable, but it’s past that now and into its own new realm. I knew I had the pace so I hung back to let things string out before I attacked. I saw the three of them lock up so I backed off and I had just enough of a gap to squeeze through. And after yesterday, I was really calm on the restart. I had my team owner, Michael Duncalfe, talking to me on the radio keeping me prepared, so I just got a good jump on the restart and worked to keep Rinus behind me the rest of the way. The Exclusive Autosport crew has done such a great job – to take two wins, two poles and multiple podiums in their first season on the Mazda Road to Indy is outstanding. We’re only getting stronger.”
Rinus VeeKay (#21 Jumbo Supermarkets The Netherlands/Total-Pabst Racing): “My first thought when I saw what was happening to the guys ahead of me was to not get in there, to just go around and stay on track. Once we went green, I had a good restart and I wanted to pass Parker for the points, but Robert had a great restart and he was right on my gearbox. I had to defend, and there was some wheel-banging, and that let Parker get away. I had the speed, getting the quick lap late in the race, but I got the most points I could and that’s what’s important. But I have to say, if I couldn’t win here, I am happy that Parker won.”
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires the following year. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com
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