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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.
Chevy Racing sweeps the podium with race winner Sebastien Bourdais (center), driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the first of two IndyCar Series races in Toronto, Canada. Second-place finisher Helio Castroneves (left), driver of the #3 PPV Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, and third-place finisher Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, join the celebration. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a fourteenth-place finish Saturday, July 13, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Power lost the championship points lead to teammate Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who finished eighth. (Photo by Dan Streck/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, races to a third-place finish Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6, takes over the championship points lead with an eighth-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6, took over the championship points lead with an eighth-place finish Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Brett Moist/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo by Brett Moist/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves celebrates second place (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves on pit road (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves leads Ryan Briscoe (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves on pit lane prior to qualifications for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves heads down the Long Pond Straightaway during practice for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Race winner Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates with Helio Castroneves and Carlos Munoz on the podium after the Pocono IndyCar 500. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves hits the wall after contact with Sebastien Bourdais. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates clinching pole position for race 2 at Houston. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates clinching pole position for race 2 at Houston. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates clinching pole position for race 2 at Houston. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves runs laps during Qualifying. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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