Texas: Hornish hits $1million jackpot

Sam Hornish won the $1million shoot-out for the Indy Racing League title at Texas on Sunday, retaining his title despite a strong challenge from Team Penske's Helio Castroneves in a thrilling race, which Hornish won by inches

Texas: Hornish hits $1million jackpot

Hornish went into the race with a 12-point lead over Castroneves. Sam led the most laps in the first half of the race, but a crash between Jeff Ward and Hideki Noda caused a caution period - just after Hornish had made his second pit stop. That allowed Castroneves to pit under yellow and take the lead as a result.

With 50 laps to go, however, Hornish caught the Brazilian and the title protagonists fought out a side-by-side duel before peeling off for their final pit stops. Hornish, who had to finish second if Castroneves won, lost time in his final stop having pitted a few laps earlier, and dropped to fourth place - 2.3secs behind leader Helio.

Hornish got the hammer down, passing Al Unser Jr for third with 30 laps to go, while Castroneves and Scott Sharp battled over the lead. He reeled in the leaders, grabbing second from Sharp and then hunting down Castroneves.

The final laps were incredibly close, with both title protagonists running just inches apart at over 200mph. With 21 laps remaining, they briefly touched before Hornish grabbed the lead. Then Castroneves got the lead back by passing him on the apron on the backstretch - all this with the title at stake.

With seven laps to go, they were side-by-side again but Castroneves grabbed the initiative once again. With four to go, Hornish snatched the lead and, after more side-by-side action, just held on at the finish line.

"To win this championship again is a really tremendous feeling," said Hornish, while Castroneves said: "Wow, what a fantastic season. I wanted to win, but he was the best - he did a hell of a job."

Poleman Vitor Meira finished third, while Hornish's Panther Racing team-mate Dan Wheldon stormed through the field from the back of the grid, running as high as sixth before losing radio contact with his pit crew. He finished 15th.

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