Spaniard Oriol Servia took his first laps around the Kentucky Speedway tri-oval today when the IndyCar Series closed out a two-day test session for next weekend's "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Pepsi and Edy's."

One of the series' newest faces is currently making the strongest showing among the drivers which joined the IndyCar Series following this year's merger with the Champ Car World Series.

Servia ranks eighth in the IndyCar Series championship standings and one spot better than third-year driver Marco Andretti after collecting three top-five and five top-10 finishes through 13 of 17 events this season.

The open-wheel veteran finished second in the Champ Car World Series standings in 2005 and, unlike many of the new IndyCar Series drivers, gained significant oval-track experience that helped him earn a fifth-place finish on the challenging Richmond International Raceway track and a sixth-place finish on the Milwaukee Mile. He also came close to charting top-10 finishes at Kansas Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he placed 11th.

In light of the compressed transition window to his new series, Servia is pleased with his results to date.

"I'm very happy with our performance. We're the first team in the points of the transition teams. I'm eighth in the total standings so I think we're showing we can be competitive.

"It's been really tough on us as a team preparing the cars. We only got two cars for two drivers two weeks before the first race. Since then, it's been a huge amount of work for the team to get the cars ready and to have some type of development to try to gain speed. From the schedule to the amount of work everybody on the team has put in, it's been really big.

"Every weekend we start with a little more to catch up than we would want to, but we're catching up pretty good. It helps to have a little of the rookie mentality where you know you have to learn so much from the driver and team point of view.

"You act like a sponge every race weekend. Every lap you go out there you try to learn something about the car, the race track and how your car handles around other cars. We're constantly learning and hopefully getting closer to the top guys," he said. His previous oval track experience has helped propel him to his current championship position.

"I raced ovals in Indy Lights and in CART for the first three years, so I've had a fair amount of experience on ovals. On some, especially the short ones, we've been very, very strong. In Milwaukee, we had a very strong race and in Richmond we were fighting with the top guys all race and finished fifth.

"On the bigger ovals we just need more time and more development. We obviously don't have some of the pieces that big guys have just because we haven't had time to develop anything. Hopefully, for next year, we'll be in better shape on the bigger ovals," Servia said.

Despite taking consecutive top-five finishes at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course and in Edmonton, Alberta, he hesitant to set firm goals for the final four-race stretch of the season that begins at Kentucky Speedway next week.

"It's hard to have goals. All we want to do is get miles, finish, get results and some points. Now we're eighth in the points. We could be sixth, we could be 12th after the next four races because (the competition) is so tight. You never know what's going to happen. We just need to keep doing the job every race, trying to get the best we can without going too crazy and by the end of the season we should be pretty satisfied."

Milka Duno, Sarah Fisher, Will Power, Graham Rahal, and E.J. Viso also participated in today's session.

The fifth and final 2008 Kentucky Speedway race weekend opens with IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights Fanfest Aug. 8. Gates open at 3:00 p.m. The day includes practice and qualifying sessions before closing with a garage-area autograph session with competitors from both circuits.

Action continues Aug. 9 with an IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights primetime doubleheader on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway tri-oval. Gates open at 2:00 p.m. Firestone Indy Lights practice begins at 2:30 p.m., and will be followed by an exclusive prerace concert with indie artist Josh Kelley on the Turn 1 Concourse at 4:30 p.m. Sure-to-be-action-packed open-wheel racing begins at 6:30 p.m., with the "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Pepsi and Edy's." The Firestone Indy Lights "Kentucky 100" will take the green flag at 9:15 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now and can be reserved online through the tickets pages of this Web site, by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223), through any Meijer store and by visiting the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 100, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., next to the Montgomery Inn Restaurant or the Sparta, Ky., Fan Center located off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

~ Kentucky Speedway ~