Ryan Briscoe added to the legacy of Surfers Paradise by extending the list of different winners and becoming the first Australian driver to win on the streets of the Gold Coast as he triumphed on the IndyCar Series first - and maybe only - visit 'down under'.
Briscoe, one of two Australians in the field, held off Australian-born but New Zealand 'native' Scott Dixon to claim the non-championship exhibition event by a mere half-second, while Ryan Hunter-Reay returned Rahal Letterman Racing to the podium several years after co-owner Bobby Rahal's last race at the circuit.
Briscoe started third in the #6 Team Penske car and led for nearly two-thirds of the race's 60 laps, once fellow countryman - and polesitter - Will Power had snagged a barrier and damaged his KV Race Technology/Team Australia car. In all, Briscoe led three times for 39 laps, retaking the point for the final time on lap 43 after the final round of pit-stops and holding off new champion Dixon as he dealt with traffic in the final stages.
"What a way to cap off the year - and in my home country too," Briscoe bubbled, after taking a third win of the year to add to previous successes at Milwaukee and Mid-Ohio, "It doesn't get better than this."
The win was Penske's second at Surfers, but its first in a long while following its defection from Champ Car to the IRL. Emerson Fittipaldi took the team's only other success 'down under' at the second-ever running, back in 1992.
"I have to give credit to the guys at Team Penske. My new engineer Eric [Cowdin] did a great job all weekend, and I'm just so happy for all the [Australian] fans. It was a great event and we're going to turn up the wick tonight."
Having missed out on winning the season finale at Chicagoland by 0.0033secs, Dixon finished just 0.5019secs behind Briscoe on the punishing street circuit, which claimed four accident victims during the 60 laps. The Kiwi, however, led for a single lap around one-third distance, but took advantage of the traffic to close in on the leader as the chequered flag neared.
"We had a bit bad start and short-cut the track, so we had to give Briscoe a position back," the Ganassi driver revealed, "It was unfortunate because it's so hard to pass on track. The traffic at the end made it exciting though. We were quicker in different spots - he was quicker than me, but we were quicker on the backside. I don't know [if i could have passed him] - maybe, if he had made a mistake, we could have got him."
Hunter-Reay put an exclamation mark on a solid season for Rahal Letterman Racing by returning to the podium in the Team Ethanol car at a circuit where he won the 2003 Surfers Paradise Champ Car race. The American's only other win since that time came earlier this year when he triumphed in an unpredictable Watkins Glen race - after Briscoe and Dixon were eliminated by a rare mistake from the Kiwi.