Tony Kanaan and Graham Rahal battle their way to top-five finishes at Iowa

Chris Trotman

Tony Kanaan and Graham Rahal exchanged third place several times late in Iowa, leaving Kanaan frustrated with the second-generation driver — but it was a non-issue once the pair had time to cool down.

Tony Kanaan wishes Graham Rahal had given him more space in the closing laps of the Iowa Corn Indy 250, but isn't going to stew over it since the race ended without incident.

It helps that Kanaan was able to pass Rahal and take the final step of the podium in what was the most intense battle at the end of Sunday's IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway.

The two raced side-by-side at several points and nearly made contact on several occasions, but were ultimately able to navigate around each other.

After the race, Kanaan took umbrage with how wide Rahal made his car, insinuating that Rahal would pay for it later, but seemed to cool on the topic after a few minutes in the post-race press conference.

"It was intense," Kanaan said of the battle. "Obviously he has not had a great year, so he was fighting for the podium position. And he fought a little bit too hard in my opinion... He gave me room and at other times he didn't but we managed to pass him.

"So it was a hard race. He's a good driver. He just made his car extremely wide and it was a good battle."

Rahal certainly has not had a great season.

The second-generation driver entered the weekend 17th in the championship rankings, 150 points behind Helio Castroneves. A podium at Long Beach was his only top-five finish before Iowa, and Rahal was fighting for every spot.

Rahal started sixth by virtue of winning his way into Saturday's third heat race, but struggled at the start of Sunday's event. He rallied in the middle stages of the race, at one point challenging James Hinchcliffe for the win, before ultimately falling back at the end.

He's just happy to score a top-five after the way his season has started.

"I'm proud of these guys because as I've said too many times, the last few weeks haven't been easy for us," Rahal said. "I'm really proud of the engineering staff and everyone. For everybody to keep coming back week after week with their chins up means a lot to me. I felt like I could have won the race today."

As for the hard-fought battle with Kanaan, Rahal chalks that up to short-track racing and the one-groove nature of Iowa Speedway. He doesn't expect anything else to come of it.

Both Kanaan and Rahal leave Iowa Speedway with momentum and a top-five, and that's not always easy to come by.

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