Bits and pieces on the Iowa Corn Indy 250

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–  Rahal secures best finish since April: A tough season got better this weekend for Graham Rahal, who was solidly competitive on Sunday and placed fifth for his best result since a runner-up finish at Long Beach in April. “I’m proud of these guys because as I’ve said [to] too many people, the last few weeks hasn’t been easy for us,” he said. “I’m really proud of the engineering staff and everyone [on the team]. For everybody to keep coming back week after week with their chins up means a lot to me.” Rahal moved up from eighth place to second in the stint following his first stop and even led on a Lap 160 restart.

– Servia solid for Panther: Also achieving its best result since Long Beach was Panther Racing, with driver Oriol Servia claiming a seventh-place finish. The Spaniard stayed between the middle and lower reaches of the Top 10 during the afternoon, turning in a steady effort for a squad that needed one. “This is the first time I can remember that I didn’t ask for a single change to the car for an entire race,” said Servia. “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.”

– “Home” win for Hinch’s sponsor: While race winner James Hinchcliffe’s sponsor, GoDaddy, is headquartered in Arizona, the web registry and hosting company has a major presence in Iowa with an office in the town of Hiawatha. Naturally, GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving was thrilled that his driver could pull out a victory in a place where his company does business. “What a great day for Hinch and the entire GoDaddy team,” Irving said. “To see him win in Iowa after visiting with our GoDaddy employees there last week makes this one extra special. We love seeing Hinch’s passion and ‘get-it-done’ attitude. It reminds us of our philosophy when it comes to helping customers and it’s just plain fun to watch!”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.