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'Spiderman' holds on under Hornish assault.

"I was pushing as hard as I could without putting it in the wall," the champion said, "That's what everybody had to do today - it was a constant battle to find the right set-up on the car.

"The two times I thought I had him in traffic, the yellow flag came out as soon as I got a run. We're happy to come out of here with a second-place finish, however."

Castroneves' route to the head of the standings was aided by early race misfortune for two if his main rivals. Dixon led confidently from the start, opening out a slight lead over the rest of the field, but hit trouble at his first pit-stop. Although the refuelling and tyre change went without a hitch, the Ganassi driver ground to a halt as he tried to pull away. A failure in the drivetrain was diagnosed, and the new Zealander lost over 40 laps while repairs were effected in an attempt to gain points from any incident on track.

"It's so disappointing to have a day end like this," Dixon sighed, having pulled out out of the running when it became apparent that there was nothing to be gained from staying on track, "We had such a strong car at the beginning of the race, I thought we had a chance to win it, but we broke a half-shaft on the first pit-stop.

"The guys did a great job to get it fixed and get us back out there, and we got a few more points by doing that. We'll just have to go out there and try to win the last three races."

Kanaan started the race leading the point standings, but left holding third place after his clash with Scheckter allowed both Castroneves and de Ferran to edge ahead of him. The AGR and Ganassi cars were running in close contention with the leaders during the early stages, but came together in turn two with just 26 laps when Scheckter made contact with the left rear of Kanaan's car and pitched both into the wall. Predictably, there were conflicting views over whose fault the accident was.

"I had been trying to get around Tony for several laps but, when we went into the corner, everyone just checked up and I ended up in the back of him," the South African, who initially appeared to have not noticed Kanaan slowing, said, "It was a bad ending to a good weekend for us."

“I really don't know what happened," Kanaan insisted, "When you race close to each other, sometimes that happens. Somebody hit me from behind. Helio was trying pass Kenny [Brack] and we all slowed down to get into the corner. It looks like Tomas must not have seen me and hit me from the back. It's a tough break because this is when we need the points.”

Through the confusion came Herta, de Ferran and Alex Barron, all of whom looked likely candidates for the final podium position inn the closing stages. Barron's interest faded, however, after he, too, hit the wall.

“We were definitely poised to make a run for the win in the closing laps, and I feel terrible about what happened," the series' resident 'supersub' admitted, "I thought I felt something a little funny in the back of the car the lap before the accident and, on the next lap, I was moving to get around the lapped car of Buddy Rice and the rear got away from me coming around turn three. That was it - it's a shame.”

The incident, when Barron was tracking down Hornish, allowed Herta to return to the podium.



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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