The Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar team has been one of the more impressive efforts of the 2020 season. Fielding two young drivers who have both proved massively competitive, it seemed the team’s youthful risk paid off. Now, though, veteran driver Helio Castroneves will be replacing rookie Oliver Askew after the latter driver reported suffering concussion-like symptoms since a crash at the Indy 500 in August.
If you didn’t tune in, Askew had a crash following a mid-race restart. Trying to avoid a spinning Conor Daly, Askew lost control and made heavy contact with the inside wall.
The No. 7 driver retained consciousness during the crash, but it was obvious he was struggling. After the AMR Safety Team helped to extract him from the car, Askew needed to sit on the sidepod of his car for several minutes before he was able to regain his bearings before being transported to the medical center.
Askew was cleared after the accident, telling media, “I think I got the wind knocked out of me and banged up my knee a little bit.” There was no indication that he was struggling with any other concussion symptoms.
In fact, Askew has raced four events since the crash: two at Gateway the week after the Indy 500 and two at Mid-Ohio two weeks later.
Now, though, Askew has reported problems with balance and coordination, opting for another medical examination to assess those symptoms specifically. While it has not been confirmed that he has a concussion, he certainly does have the symptoms.
Askew had the following to say in a team statement:
This was an incredibly tough call but I have to follow the advice of the IndyCar Medical Team and my doctors. My priority right now is focusing on my health. Despite not being in the car, I will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Harvest GP, giving whatever insight and support to Arrow McLaren SP that I can.
Arrow McLaren SP has taken no risks in signing the well-experienced Castroneves for the remaining races of the year. With two decades of experience under his belt, the Brazilian will likely provide a level of storied understanding that has been missing from the young team.
It may also serve as a test for the future. Arrow McLaren SP has been toying with the idea of adding a third car for 2021, the intention being to sign a veteran to temper the base level of experience held by its two younger drivers. It’s an unfortunate series of circumstances, but there is a way for the team to make the most of the situation.