While all the attention in the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma was on the battle between the Penske team mates at the front and on the frightening crash between Sebastien Bourdais and Josef Newgarden, a certain Rubens Barrichello was diligently finding his feet and working his way forward from 11th on the grid.
In the top ten throughout and always the fastest of the three KV Racing Technology cars at Sonoma Raceway, by the time a series of late race cautions and incidents had played out Rubens found himself staring at the back of Dario Franchitti's rear wing for the final laps of the race. Franchitti was bound for the podium: so that meant that Barrichello was in fourth place, by far his best result since switching to the IZOD IndyCar Series at the start of 2012.
"It was a good day ... My first top four on a track," smiled Barrichello. "Obviously we had a car that was solid. I don't think we had the quickest car out there. We could see that on the restart with Dario and the two Penskes, because they opened up quite a big gap on us. But it was solid.
"I think that we deserved to be probably, in terms of speed, sixth or seventh," he admitted. "But I was lucky I got away on the first crash and overtook a few people."
In a race full of incidents and more than a few mistakes by some of the series' most experienced and talented stars such as Helio Castroneves, Oriol Servia, Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay, Barrichello shone by keeping his head down and delivering the goods.
"As soon as you went offline a little bit, the cars were a bit shaky," he said. "It was a pretty fast race. With a fast race it meant that we were pulling some marbles on the track. I think the pace was getting better and better. The tyres were holding up very, very well."
There had been one brief moment of panic, however: "The only problem I had was in the middle of the race when I thought Ed Carpenter saw me coming, but he didn't. When he closed the door, we touched. Luckily my car was okay and I was able to continue. Apart from that it was trouble-free."
In a series of recent media interviews during IndyCar's August break, Barrichello has given the impression of being frustrated by his performance in the series since joining at the start of 2012 after being ousted from F1 The F1 veteran has admitted that he's been struggling more than he expected in his maiden season but says that's mostly down of a lack a familiarity with the circuits. Sonoma was at least a track he'd been to before, and was one of the very first he ran on in an IndyCar after deciding to switch to the series for 2012.
"I have tested here, although not last week. It was a good track, I think I could use a little bit more of my knowledge of the car to improve it," he said. "I kept on saying I've been struggling with some of the tracks this year just because I haven't got the knowledge.