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!”

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”