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Servia Stakes his Claim

Oriol Servia staked his claim to a long-term berth at Newman-Haas Racing with a fine third-place finish at Milwaukee

The Catalonian, who usually works minor miracles for the underfunded Dale Coyne Racing outfit, was given his first opportunity with a top-notch team after Bruno Junqueira fractured two vertebrae in an accident at last weekend's Indianapolis 500.

Junqueira's injury is excepted to sideline him for several months - probably until the end of the season - but Newman-Haas signed Servia for just the Milwaukee race, preferring to keep their options open and see who else might be on the market.

They now face a difficult decision after Servia acquitted himself more than respectably in Wisconsin, scoring the sixth podium of his Champ Car career and eclipsing teammate and reigning Champion Sebastien Bourdais in the process.

"I'm very happy I had a chance in the PacifiCare car this weekend," said Servia. "We had a very good [set-up] and I'm happy I was able to deliver. The team were happy and I want to be back in the car - it is a really good car!"

Team boss Carl Haas praised Servia's performance, but was non-committal about whether he had done enough to secure the drive for the rest of the season.

"Oriol did a good job," he told SpeedTV.com's David Phillips. "He did everything we asked; he certainly didn't lose any points. What we're going to do [long-term] I can't say right now, but we'll know in the next few days."

Race engineer Guillaume 'Rocky' Rocquelin was impressed with his new charge.

"Oriol is a very smart guy, gives very good feedback and he took full advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves today.

"This was probably not the ideal place for him to drive for Newman-Haas. As everyone knows, we've been pretty average here lately and with just one day of practice and qualifying, it was a pretty big challenge for him. But he did a good job - I'm happy for him."

Bourdais, who succumbed to some of Servia's racecraft at a mid-race restart, threw his weight behind the popular 30-year-old.

"It's not my decision to make, of course," said Bourdais, "but I like Oriol. I've known him a long time and I think he deserves the chance to finally drive a good car. And he proved today what he can do."

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