The general feeling when KVSH Racing signed Sebastien Bourdais was that the team upgraded its program on street and road courses, but would have a bit of a drop in oval races.
After all, Bourdais was replacing standout oval driver Tony Kanaan, who left the team mere months after winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2013.
But Bourdais has turned out to be decent for KVSH on the ovals, and he scored a huge win last weekend at Milwaukee for his first win on an oval since his 2006 victory at the same track. That win tied Bourdais with Al Unser Jr. for seventh on the all-time win list with 34.
More important, Bourdais is now sixth in the IndyCar standings, but just 27 points out of third-place. His dominating victory has Bourdais and KVSH soaring into this weekend's race at Iowa Speedway.
"I'm very excited about the win in Milwaukee — it is my first on an oval in nine years and to do it the way we did was special," Bourdais said. "That was last weekend and in racing it is easy to go from being the hero to a goat."
He noted that Iowa is a shorter track than Milwaukee with high banking, but was comfortable there last year with KVSH. He qualified sixth at Iowa last season and finished 19th.
"We had a decent car there last year, and have worked very hard on our oval setup this year," Bourdais said. "Chevy has given us great power and the best aero package, and we have a real chance to finish in the top-five in the championship. We just have to keep our nose to the grindstone and keep putting up good results."
MEARS EXTESION: Germain Racing will bring Casey Mears back next year for a sixth season with the NASCAR team.
Mears has driven the No. 13 Geico Chevrolet since he joined the team for 12 of the final 13 races in 2010.
"I think that it's been a long time in the making here at Germain Racing, being competitive at the Cup level," Mears said. "It's been a long process to get the GEICO program to where we are now. We are finally starting to see some of the benefits from all the hard work from the last four or five years."
Mears, a 13-year veteran of the Sprint Cup Series, has five top-10s and one top-five finish with Germain.
Team owner Bob Germain Jr. called Mears an "integral part of the team's growth and success."
"We've come a long way as a team, and assembled a group of extremely talented people who enjoy working together," Germain said.
POLLEX-OVARIAN CANCER ALLIANCE: Sherry Pollex, longtime girlfriend of Martin Truex Jr., was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday on behalf of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.
Pollex was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer last year and has continued to travel with Truex to many of the Sprint Cup Series races as she battles the disease. Her trip was to support the Cancer Treatment Parity Act, a proposal intended to ensure women have access to affordable oral chemotherapy treatments. Oral chemotherapy treatments are not always covered by insurance companies.
"Having the voice of a survivor and a well-known public figure helps to advance ovarian cancer on the federal policy agenda and bring a face to this devastating disease," said alliance CEO Calaneet Balas. "Sherry is a wonderful advocate for ovarian cancer and we're excited that she could join us for a day of advocacy for ovarian cancer."
INDY & MICHIGAN QUALIFYING: NASCAR will use its superspeedway qualifying format at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next week and Michigan International Speedway next month.
Based on a random draw at Indianapolis, cars will line up on pit road for the first round and NASCAR will release drivers at a predetermined interval. NASCAR can allow more than one car on track at a time, but officials will likely ensure a second car won't impede or help the one it follows on track.
There will be a 10-minute break between rounds, with the fastest 12 from the first round advancing. Starting positions 1-through-12 will be determined by the fastest laps in the second session.
CINDRIC-ARCA DEBUT: Austin Cindric will make his ARCA Series debut this weekend at Iowa Speedway.
Cindric, the 16-year-old son of Team Penske President Tim Cindric, will drive for Cunningham Motorsports on Friday at Iowa.
"We are excited to work with Austin Cindric in his first opportunity to race in the ARCA Series," said Kerry Scherer, managing director of Cunningham Motorsports. "Austin has experience racing in many different cars and we always look forward to helping young drivers grow and develop their skills."
Cindric currently races in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Series, as well as the Red Bull Global RallyCross Series. He last weekend became the youngest winner in SportsCar Challenge history with a win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Cindric also won the RallyCross race at Daytona on June 21, and he recently became the youngest driver to ever compete in the Bathurst 12 Hour race in Australia.
"Iowa Speedway is one of the most challenging short ovals in the country," Cindric said. "I have a lot to learn and I really appreciate how much effort it has taken, by so many people, to make this happen."