Scott Dixon headed a Target Chip Ganassi 1-2 in the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway, as he and Dario Franchitti made the most of early exits for both their Penske rivals.

Dixon completed the 300 laps just three tenths ahead of Franchitti as another IndyCar Series race proved just how hard it has become to pass with the current spec of Dallara-Honda, but the Scot should have been first across the line, having been caught out by the timing of one of the race's four accident-inspired cautions.

The victory - Dixon's third of the season and second at Richmond - was the 19th of his IndyCar career and tied Hornish for the most in series history. Dixon, driving the #9 Ganassi entry, matched the record in his 104th race, one less than Hornish, who totaled 116 starts from 2000-2006.

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"Richmond has been a place I've wanted to win at again for quite some time," the Kiwi confessed, "To come through and get the points when we need them and have such a great day points-wise over the Penske two was very, very big. I definitely hand it to Team Target. The guys definitely had it covered with a 1-2 and almost putting the majority of the field almost a lap down."

Having secured pole position on Friday night, 2007 series champion Franhitti led until the second yellow, but then spent the next section of the race chasing Andretti Green Racing's Hideki Mutoh, who opted not to stop under caution for Ryan Briscoe's meeting with the wall.

When Mike Conway then brought out the third caution just shy of halfway, Franchitti was forced to take a splash of fuel having already committed to pit-lane when the yellows flew, and that proved to be the difference between first and second, as Dixon inherited a lead he would not relinquish through the second half of the race.

"It's a great 1-2 for the Target team, [but] it came down to a yellow," Franchitti sighed, "We were very close on fuel and had to come in when the pits are closed.

"Then we couldn't pass. We were a second slower when we were in traffic, [and] I have to apologize to the fans because that was an awful, awful race. There's nothing the drivers can do about it. We're trying as hard as we can. It was a terrible race."

Graham Rahal came through to claim third spot even before Helio Castroneves crashed the second Penske out of a top six position on a night when neither he nor Briscoe - although the latter only had a brief outing - appeared to have anything for the Ganassi duo.

"For some reason, a car [Schecketer] slowed down in front of me and, in order for me to not crash him, I ended up crashing myself," Castroneves revealed, "I had to get out of the throttle which just pushed my car up into the marbles and then the wall."

Rahal, meanwhile went on to post his best-ever result on an oval of any sort.

"It shows how hard the McDonald's guys worked because, honestly, at the start of this weekend, we weren't where we wanted to be and we were struggling," Rahal commented, "We just kept working through it [and] it's great to be on the podium. We've been good on the short ovals but, now, we just need to find some more speed on the mile-and-a-halfs."

Mutoh survived to take a strong fourth, heading an AGR quartet that saw Danica Patrick - another not to stop under Briscoe's caution - Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti, both of whom used good pit work to rise from 17th and 16th respectively after qualifying, albeit coming in a lap down on Dixon.

"I wasn't sure how staying out on that first yellow would work out," Patrick admitted, "but I guess it did work out. When we first went back out we were really fast and we were picking people off, but I don't know if that had anything to do with that strategy working out."

Raphael Matos, Robert Doornbos and Dan Wheldon completed the top ten, the Dutchman recording his best oval finish, but there was to only a small improvement in EJ Viso's form, the HVM driver finishing twelfth but not enjoying the spoils of his best oval qualifying result after falling foul of the cautions and then brushing the wall in the closing stages.

Joining Conway and the two Penskes on the sidelines, Jaques Lazier found the wall on the opening lap as the Team 3G entry got away from him as the pack headed into turn three.

"The car just snapped on me and caught me by surprise," Briscoe said of his single-car accident at turn two, "It's obviously very disappointing and hopefully we can start catching back up next week in Watkins Glen."