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'Spiderman' holds on under Hornish assault.


Reigning Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr came close to racking up back-to-back victories in the 2003 series, but met with stiff resistance from his erstwhile title rival, Helio Castroneves, who got to continue his tradition of climbing the safety fencing in celebration.

In holding off the American, Penske driver Castroneves assumed control of the IRL points table, taking over from countryman and friend Tony Kanaan, who crashed out in an early race incident with Tomas Scheckter.

Castroneves featured at the front of the field throughout the 225-lap distance, giving best initially to another title hopeful, Scott Dixon, and then assuming a better position when the young Kiwi was forced to take a long pit-stop for repairs that dropped him to the rear of the field. In all, the Brazilian led the final 173 laps, holding on through several yellow flag and pit-stop windows to fend off that determined assault from a fired-up Hornish. Bryan Herta finished third for Andretti Green Racing after running solidly all afternoon.

"It was a great win today and I'm extremely happy for everyone at Marlboro Team Penske - to be able to win in the team's backyard made it even more special and I'm glad I was able to do it for my guys," an ecstatic Castroneves bubbled.

"Today was a real team effort - my Firestone tyres held up all race and the Toyota engine was incredible. When I needed to conserve fuel, I could and, when I needed the horsepower, it was right there. My engineer did a great job in setting up the car and the crew's pit-stops were excellent.

"Nazareth is a very tough track and nothing is ever easy here. Sometimes it comes down to mileage, sometimes it's the yellows and sometimes its traffic, but today everything came together for us and it was perfect.

The 'hometown' race for Pennsylvania-based Penske proved to be a good one for Castroneves and team-mate Gil de Ferran, who now first and second in the point standings respectively, after the older Brazilian finished fourth on the road. 'Spiderman', however, was taking nothing for granted in his quest for a first championship.

"It's awesome to be in the points lead and I'm going to enjoy it, at least for the next two weeks," he said, "This championship is like the stock market - one week you're up and the next you're down. It's not over until the fat lady sings, so we have to keep working, keep focused and keep finishing races."

Hornish was all over the back of Castroneves' car in the final stages but with his handling starting to go, was just not able to make a move stick on the Brazilian.


Related Pictures

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Helio Castroneves celebrates victory the only way he knows how.
Helio Castroneves leads the field down the frontstretch to start the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday April 26 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves leads the field to the green flag to start the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday April 26 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves wins the Verizon P1 Award for winning the pole for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves wins the Verizon P1 Award for winning the pole for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves wins the Verizon P1 Award for winning the pole for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves wins the Verizon P1 Award for winning the pole for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 AAA.com Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, races fastest to win the pole during qualifying Saturday, April 24, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 AAA.com Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, April 24, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, finishes second fastest during qualifying Saturday, April 24, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Power will start in the front row next to teammate Helio Castroneves who won the pole position. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Penske Truck Rental Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, finishes third fastest during qualifying Saturday, April 24, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Pagenaud and Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Will Power had the fastest qualifying times. Castrovenes won the pole position. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves rolls down pit lane during practice for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium as Juan Pablo Montoya (l to r), driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar; Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Verizon Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V-6 and Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet V-6, celebrate Saturday, April 18, 2015 after finishing third, first and second in the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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