On Oriol Servia, Graham Rahal and Iowa heat races

Chris Trotman

IndyCar returned to Iowa Speedway on Sunday and left fans with several topics to discuss around the office early this week.

The Iowa Corn Indy 250 (or is it the Indy Iowa Corn, I can't tell) was a return to good ole' fashioned IndyCar speedway racing.

Iowa is often confused for a short track because of its length, but it's more of a shorter track that races more like Texas or Charlotte with the downforce and banking.

It was comforting to see a competitive and action-packed race after what happened at Texas and it was a sign that the new competition director, Derrick Walker will be both studious and responsive to the needs of the fans.

Not that we ever had a doubt.

On that note, here are some other hot topics coming out of Iowa Speedway.

New heat format a success

The new heat race format featured the same number of races as last year (three) but adding 20 additional laps. That combined with the transfer opportunities and paying championship points in the final prelim gave the teams plenty of reasons to compete all the way throughout Saturday afternoon.

It's always exciting to get an extra day of race content and hopefully, the new brass decides to keep the heat format an Iowa staple.

Rahal back on track

Graham Rahal may have finally found his footing this weekend at Iowa, winning his transfer heat on Saturday and scoring just his second top-five of the season on Sunday in the main event. His only previous similar result was a podium in April in the Grand Prix at Long Beach.

Following that race, most of the paddock seemed to anticipate that Rahal would establish some momentum and contend for victories but that just hasn't been the case.

He finished 25th at Indianapolis and took a pair of top-10s at Belle Isle before scoring results of 16th and 21st at Milwaukee and Fort Worth. That's how his season has gone thus far. It will be interesting to see if his Iowa is more random, like Belle Isle, or the start of a more-competitive trend at Team Rahal.

Panther gaining momentum with Servia

The game of musical chairs for Panther Racing continued at Iowa, pairing Tino Belli with driver Oriol Servia this weekend after releasing David Cripps as head engineer.

The tandem worked, at least for the weekend as Servia scored a seventh-place finish on Sunday. It was perhaps the most-consistent and complete weekend for the team all season as Servia maintained a top-10 running order throughout the afternoon.

"This is the first time I can remember that I didn't ask for a single change to the car for an entire race," Servia said. "To be honest, seeing that I was seventh at the end was a surprise because I felt like we were much higher than that, but a big thanks to the team for such a great car today."

While the team is looking at several options, including Servia, Ryan Briscoe and AJ Allmendinger -- the most competitive answer very well could be the Spaniard. And all signs points towards the National Guard wanting a driver capable of winning races -- regardless of nationality.

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