Ryan Briscoe edged Scott Dixon by 0.0077secs to win the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway, increasing his advantage at the top of the IndyCar Series point standings in the process.

Starting from the pole, the Australian was a factor all night, but was forced to go head-to-head with his antipodean rival after a late-race caution, ironically caused by a mechanical failure that sent Penske team-mate Helio Castroneves into the wall on lap 185.

The lap 191 restart contributed to the late-race drama as Briscoe and Dixon swapped the lead four times over the final nine laps, and ran no more than 0.08secs apart throughout the denouement. Holding the outside line, the Australian only got the edge on the dash for the flag, before crossing the line a fraction ahead of his rival - and uncertain of his victory until some time after the flag had dropped. The outcome had echoes of last season's Chicagoland finale, where Dixon thought he had won, before the nod was given to Castroneves.

Related Articles

The victory, the third of the season for Briscoe, was the fourth-closest finish in IndyCar Series history - the equivalent of 28.5 inches - and helped the Team Penske driver take a 25-point lead - over Dixon's Ganassi team-mate Dario Franchitti - to the next round, in Japan, next month.

"We've got to stay focused," he insisted, "The Target cars are going to be there in Motegi and Homestead, so we just have to stay focused. We've had good cars on all the mile-and-half ovals this year. We've just got to keep it together. We had a couple of mistakes tonight but were able to come back. We've just have to try to avoid those situations."

For Dixon, it was a fourth near miss at Chicagoland Speedway in as many years, and the Kiwi dropped 33 points back from Briscoe with two races remaining.

"We've all seen this movie several times," the reigning champion sighed, "Unfortunately, at Chicago, we just keep finishing second.

"The whole night, I think we drove a better race - the guys on the team did a fantastic job, the pit stops were flawless. We launched out there a few times but we just didn't have the speed. Our mile-and-half dominance, that we seemed to have last year on the Target team, has just really been affected. We need to play catch up with Penske. They clearly are a lot faster than us. That's all I had."

The restart bunched the field to the extent that the leading 16 cars were all within a second of Briscoe at the finish. Mario Moraes, fast all night in the #5 KV Racing Technology entry, finished a career-best third - just 0.0609secs from victory - after running sixth on lap 198.

"It's amazing," the Brazilian enthused, "The team has been working really hard for this all season and I'm really pleased with a third place finish. The team did a great job in the pits - our mechanics did a great job and we had really great pit-stops."

Franchitti, the winner last week on the Infineon Raceway road course, had to make do with fourth in the 200-lap race, but retained his second place overall in the championship race.

Graham Rahal rounded out the top five, ahead of Ed Carpenter, Oriol Servia - getting his wish for a good oval car - Tomas Scheckter, Rafa Matos and Justin Wilson, the Briton having run three-abreast with Moraes and Rahal for many laps. Luczo Dragon rookie Matos, meanwhile, had been running fourth on lap 198, but fell to ninth as the slice and dice of the final laps went against him.

"This was the most fun race of the season," the Brazilian admitted, "We were running fourth with two laps to go, but Rahal chopped me in turn four and I had to lift - that cost us a few positions. Tonight was all about running in the pack and we proved we could do that, which gives the team a lot of confidence heading into the last two races in Japan and Homestead."

Rahal again insisted that he thought he could have won the race.

"Honestly, when I went up high, I thought we were going to get it because the car had so much momentum," he sighed, "The McDonald's car felt good all night, and it's no doubt we will win one soon. I pulled out of the draft, went up high and [the momentum] just died - we just didn't have enough speed. When you go up that high, the distance you're taking there is massive and, unfortunately, we just didn't have enough speed."

AGR trio Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan all narrowly missed the top ten, coming in ahead of Sarah Fisher, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Mike Conway, while HVM duo EJ Viso and Robert Doornbos rounded out the finishers, ahead of Team 3G Jaques Lazier.