Askew’s Physical Preparation Builds for IndyCar Series Debut
Newly signed Arrow McLaren SP driver Oliver Askew will have a challenging transition to the NTT IndyCar Series, but it’s one he’s eager and ready to tackle.
We had a chance to catch up with the 15-time Road To Indy winner and reigning Indy Lights Champion to check in on how he’s preparing for his first season of IndyCar action in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. The 23-year-old kicked off his pre-season preparations at Sebring International Raceway in mid-January, something that has helped prepare the rookie for his first IndyCar season.
Askew took part in minimal pre-season testing before his previous three Road To Indy seasons, so having the chance to get race fit before the season begins is new and beneficial.
“The last three years, I haven’t had that much time in the car pre-season to get ready for St. Petersburg,” said the Jupiter, Florida native. “I really felt that last year in Indy Lights. It was hot and humid in St. Petersburg and my slight struggles were just a fact of not being in the car for so long.
“Being in the car helps a lot. We’re somewhat restricted on how many days we can test, so I’ve had to look for different avenues that work for me personally, and that helps improve the areas I’m lacking.”
The No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet that Askew will drive this season is 250 pounds heavier, puts out 300 more horsepower, and has three-times the downforce of his Indy Lights car from last season. Those increased parameters will require more overall mass, as well as improved muscle strength and endurance.
“I’ve done a lot of training in November through January at Ascension St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis,” said Askew. “We’ve focused a lot of on power, quick-twitch muscles, and muscle sustainability. That seemed to help when I got back into the car during the recent test at Sebring.”
Askew tipped the scales right at 150 pounds when his 2019 season ended in September. The 6-foot-3-inch driver added 10 pounds of mass, and currently weighs 160 pounds and his target weight to start the season is 165 pounds, To gain that five more pounds, he’ll be aiming for a balanced diet that includes 3,500 calories per day.
“I think 165 pounds would be ideal,” explained Askew. “I was interested to see how I would feel after driving at Sebring because it’s not an easy track. It’s not a high-grip track, so I do expect the steering weight to be heavier at a few other circuits. I was pleased with my overall strength. There wasn’t anything that I couldn’t do with the car. Nothing is restricting me physically to drive the car how I wanted to. That was really positive. I was happy with that.”
To get acclimated to the heat and humidity of the ‘Sunshine State’, Askew is planning on spending the month before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg at home in Jupiter. He plans to spend a lot of time on his road bike working on his cardio endurance, while also making sure to lift weights.
Askew and the rest of the Arrow McLaren SP team will be back on track during NTT IndyCar Series ‘spring training’ on Feb. 11-12 at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. Before that, the team will be unveiling their cars on Friday, Feb. 7, in Indianapolis. Fans can visit ArrowMcLarenSP.com to enter for a chance to attend the car launch.