Given the dominance that he displayed at the Milwaukee Mile one week ago, Sebastien Bourdais could be forgiven for being disappointed with a ninth place finish at the Iowa Corn 300 on Saturday.
However, after starting the race from the very back of the grid, the KV Racing driver managed to pick his way through the field to secure his eighth top ten finish of the season.
Bourdais was resigned to P24 for the start after spinning on his first flying lap during qualifying earlier on Saturday, causing light damage to the rear of his car.
Unable to post a time, the KV Racing team opted for a radical strategy that saw the Frenchman pit twice early on during the caution periods.
Bourdais managed to pick his way through the order, and even led off-sequence after the first round of pit stops, but his pace faded towards the end to leave him ninth at the flag.
“We did everything we could hope for,” Bourdais said. “I had a massive vibration on the second-to-last stint, so we came in on the early side of the window. I ran really hard laps on that set of tires to try and make up some ground, and we did getting up to sixth, but that last yellow really hurt us.
“Unfortunately, it gave some guys the opportunity to get a new set of tires and we couldn’t because we had used up so many tires early in the race.
“Then the restart was such a mess. We got bottled up by guys that were a lap down who were fighting like they were trying to win the race. That allowed all the guys that were at the back of the pack on new tires to come through.”
Although the result marked something of a comedown following his victory in Milwaukee, Bourdais acknowledged that the race in Iowa had to be considered a success in light of his starting position.
“You have to feel good about going from 24th to ninth and the fact that over the last two races we have really improved the car and our performance on ovals,” Bourdais said.
“To get up to sixth and end up ninth, that is always tough. But with the debacle of qualifying, I guess we have to be pretty happy with tonight’s result.”