Short oval races the next two weekends figure mightily in Graham Rahal's short-term objectives and longer-term goals.
Rahal, who is fourth in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings, trails Scott Dixon by 24 points and Will Power by 27. Front-runner Juan Pablo Montoya also is within reach with five races remaining, including the finale at Sonoma Raceway that carries double points.
On deck is the ABC Supply Co. Inc. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers.
"With the pressure of the championship putting weight on our shoulders a little bit, this is going to be an even bigger weekend than I've ever had there," said Rahal, who will make his seventh start at The Milwaukee Mile. "We can't make a mistake. We have to be on top of our game each and every weekend, and with the condensed schedule at Milwaukee it's going to make it even more difficult."
Rahal has a pair of front-row starts at Milwaukee, including 2008 with pole sitter Marco Andretti in what was the first Andretti/Rahal front row since 1992 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and a best finish of second (after starting 12th) in 2011.
At the 0.894-mile, variably-banked Iowa Speedway, which hosts the Iowa Corn 300 on July 18, Rahal has a best finish of fifth in seven starts.
Rahal moved up one position in the standings courtesy of his victory June 27 in the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway, which featured an Indy car racing-record 80 lead changes and 3,173 on-track passes for position including 47 on Laps 6 and 155 alone. It was his second career victory.
"I haven't really focused much on the win as much as I have been thinking about going forward and doing well at Milwaukee because this is a big part of our season right now," said Rahal, who became the eighth different winner in the 11 races. "It's a big turning point for us as we need to do everything that we can to maximize our points so really I haven't thought about it too much. I have just been focused on what's ahead of us."